Responsible providers of electricity may take lead role for minimizing death
We seldom see and watch sad news of electrocution in the daily newspapers and Televisions. But we barely give importance on that news. Very often we use to make liable the person who dies by electrocution for his own negligence or ignorance.
We never try to think the truth behind the incident. The truth is when live electric cable falls to the ground, there is none to tell or none can tell that it is live cable with electricity.
The existence of the electricity is not visible for which main responsibility of due diligence for providing safe electricity lies on the shoulder of the provider of the electricity. The electricity providers of other countries of the world are very careful about their cables and services . Due diligence is attached fully to the lines and the cable is under constant watch and monitoring 24/7 hours with trained appointed personnel of electricity providers.
Electrical injury is a major cause of burn injury and significant cause of mortality, morbidity and disability in Bangladesh. A study was conducted in 2012 by an independent researcher to describe the proportional incidence of thermal, electrical and chemical cause of burn in Bangladesh. Electrical injury constituted about one third of the total burn injuries. Among the total 1,999 injuries about 35% were due to electrical injuries, about 26% were due to flame, about 19% were due to hot liquid, over 10% by hot object, about 9% by chemical and less than 1% were due to explosives. The incidence of death rate was 3.97 per 100,000 populations per year. Electrical injuries caused 35% of the burns and deaths in general. Electrical injury including lightning constitute about one third of the burn related mortality, morbidity and disabilities. Rural people and children are the more vulnerable group.
It is also found in that study that the children of less than five years were the most vulnerable group for burn with electrical injury. The incidence of electrical injuries was found to be six times higher in rural areas when compared to urban areas. Low literacy of the population and a lack of safety measures when in contact with electricity might be the reason behind it.
Electrical injury is becoming a significant health problem in Bangladesh, especially in rural areas due to the increasing acceptance of electricity for agricultural development purposes. At the same time, the number of electrical injuries is increasing all over the country but they are typically underreported. Most of the electric burn patients acquired injury at working place or at home during drying the wet clothes and primary cause was direct or secondary contact with powerline.
At the same time, we very often see and hear incidents of electrocution by live wire that are found floppy on roads. In this situation, we do not like to blame anyone except ignorance of deceased. Due to his bad luck and ignorance, it is happened, this is the general idea of our common people. We do not like to blame providers for the incident.
Electrocution should be considered with special importance and special emphasis needs to be given to the rural population. Rural people at large lack very basic sense and are generally unaware of handling live wires. Poor management by electricity providers is another reason for this kind of unnatural deaths. Building public awareness and taking due care for live wires should be the main responsibility of providers of electricity.
Strong regulation, supervision, rubber covered electric wires on electric poles are necessary conditions for addressing this type of unnatural deaths. Building owners or construction site personnel needs to be made liable for leaving live wires within reach of people. Numerous incidents occur each year when live cables are damaged during the course of work on housing estates, construction sites, in streets and elsewhere. The primary requirement of distribution companies is to give power supply to the consumer in a reliable manner with safety. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission is made liable when any one is contacted with live wire.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has been awaking people 24/7 hours in terms of safe using of the electricity. Some of their warnings have been given below for our knowledge.
* Check that you're using the correct wattage in all your fixtures and appliances.
* Watch out for overloaded outlets to protect your home.
* Do not use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances. Only plug one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.
* Hot outlets should be checked by qualified electricians.
* Remember that power strips only add outlets-they do not change the amount of power the outlet receives.
* Smart plugs can be used to monitor outlet power loads and even shut off appliances if an outlet begins to overheat.
* Replace or repair damaged electrical cords to keep your home safe
* Keep your used and unused cords tidy and secure to prevent damage.
* Unplug all your unused appliances to reduce potential risks.
* Keep electrical devices and outlets away from water to prevent shock.
* Give your appliances proper space for air circulation to avoid overheating.
* Ensure that all your exhaust fans are clean to prevent fire hazards.
* Always follow appliance instructions for improved electrical safety.
* Read the instructions" should top the list of electrical safety tips at home.
* Understanding how to safely operate appliances improves both the performance of your device and your personal safety.
* Use smoke alarm or detector to safe home during smoking stage.
* Be aware of heaters and water heaters to prevent potential accidents.
* Ask a professional to install electrical wiring to know what to do when the power goes down.
* Run a generator the safe way.
* Stay safe during storms.
* Get your home inspected for electrical safety.
* Installing safety caps and covers on outlets prevents children from inserting objects into the outlet, protecting them from shock. Tell kids not to pull on electrical cords. For kids, show them to pull cords out of an outlet by carefully holding the plug, and not pulling on the cord. Keep dangerous appliances away from children until they're old enough to operate them properly and understand electrical safety at home. Tips include storing toasters, blenders and electric kettles on high shelves or in locked cupboards-anywhere children cannot access them.
We can save huge lives of people including children and illiterate people living in rural Bangladesh just by letting them know right information of danger in using electricity. Again in Bangladesh most of the electric cables are uncovered. Covered with rubber cable may reduce of causality by electrocution in transmission process of electricity.
Underground cables offer an affordable and justifiable solution for critical parts and in some cases the entire length of overhead high voltage power lines. Underground cable installation is more expensive than overhead lines. However, the Maintenance cost of underground system is very low in comparison with that of overhead system. Underground system is free from interruption of service on account of thunderstorm, lightning and objects falling across the wires. There is no interference to communication circuits in underground cable. It may be beneficial to densely populated areas of urban Bangladesh.
Electronic and print media along with the responsible providers of electricity may take lead role for minimizing burn injuries and death of thousands of innocent people in Bangladesh.
The writer is a former senior secretary, government of Bangladesh