Friday, April 22, 2016

It's Electrifying


When my husband and I first moved to the big city we left a lot of family back where we came from. His brother and his family were the only people we knew. I became an avid letter writer and looked forward to letters from home.

My brother who was two years younger than me wrote a nice newsy letter telling me about the "fun" he had washing the car. When he was finished the car was clean, the driveway and surrounding area was wet, and my brother was soaked.

Someone came at him with a bucket full of sudsy water. He backed away and right into the electric fence that helped contain the neighbors' cows. He said, "It was a shocking experience!"

My sister-in-law had been nagging my brother-in-law to install some electric outlets in the wall because she had a new lamp and no place to plug it in. He kept telling her he would get to it but never did.

So she went out and bought an instruction book and set to work herself. She shut down the fuse box so there was no electricity flowing. She burrowed into the wall and found the wires she needed. She hooked up the wall fixture and plugged in her lamp.

Then she turned the electricity back on. She could not figure out what the problem was. Every time she tried to turn on the lamp a fuse would blow.

My husband and I happened to top in and she told us about her installation. She was quite proud of herself as she should have been. But she still did not know why the fuse kept blowing. My husband offered to examine her work.

My husband returned and asked if she had any electrical tape. She did not. He told her to turn off the power immediately and he went to the store to get the tape.

My sister-in-law had stripped the insulation from the wires and left about a foot of bare wires in the wall. The wires were touching each other causing a short in the system that was causing the fuses to blow. She was lucky she did not burn the house down.

It was dark when I came home from work one night. Abnormally dark.

In the city there are street lights and porch lights and all manner of other lights. You are seldom in total darkness. This night was really dark.

As I turned onto our street I could see why. The fire department was at the end of the block guarding a downed electrical wire. It was writhing and sparking at them like an angry snake. They were waiting for the utility company to come fix it. There had been a big storm and there were a lot of downed wires.

As I pulled into the driveway I saw that the inside of the house looked strange. It looked like it was on fire. Oh no! Not again. I rushed up to the door and realized that it was not a fire but a brown-out. My son and the dog were safe.

I went inside and my son came out of his room to meet me. The strange thing was that the overhead lights had no power but lamps and appliances were receiving a lesser amount of power than normal. That was why the glow from inside had looked so strange.

My son told me that a fireman had knocked on the door. He said that it was safe inside the house unless something new happened. What we needed to know was that there was another downed wire that had fallen across a fence down the street. All of our fences were connected so that meant that our fence was also "live".

Everyone was being advised to keep all children and pets away from the fences until the problem was corrected. My son had been waiting up to tell me what was going on. Once he had done his duty he and his dog went to bed. I did the same.

In the morning all that was left to remind us of the danger to the neighborhood were the scorch marks left in the street by the live wire at the end of the street.

12 comments:

  1. Interesting experiences with electricity. Very lucky too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Extremely lucky I think. Each incident could have had worse outcomes.

      Delete
  2. It can be shocking. During an ice storm I was the only one left around with power. I ran cords to a neighbors to get their furnace working and they lived like that for 4 days. I was the coffee hang out also, so got a pot going early for those going to work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are really a good neighbor. I'll bet you made a lot of coffee.

      Delete
  3. Six houses on my street, so the electric company is not enthusiastic about updating equipment, and transformers blow regularly. We know whose by the noise. Once in the middle of a week long blizzard that drew power crews to NE for repairs we had the transformer at the head of the street blow. There was power everywhere but our street. We kept warm with the fireplace and cast iron stove and I have a stove top percolator. I still resent they left us without power in freezing weather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I lived in a neighborhood in Detroit that was often neglected when there were power emergencies. Actually now that I think about there were several neighborhoods like that. It makes you want to learn to curse better.

      Delete
  4. My late father was a self-employed electrical contractor so at least we never had to worry about problems in our home that were not caused by acts of nature.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky you. My father knew about electricity too so we only had storms to blame for outages.

      Delete
  5. I was shocked before and my arm turned bluish.
    I was also occasionally when I fixed some of the electrical problems.
    Electricity is very dangerous. It Can be our good friend if we know him very well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A blue arm is not a good thing. Please be more careful.

      Delete