Smart as a fox: Hydro Ottawa leads the charge with electrical safety campaign

It can be easy to forget about the electrical infrastructure that keeps our homes and businesses powered. It’s everywhere around us, yet it lives in the background of our day-to-day lives. While this is understandable, the lack of awareness can also come at a heavy cost.

Transformer boxes and hydro lines, while equipped with safety measures, nonetheless carry a high-powered electrical current. A wrong move around a downed power line or other equipment can lead to serious injuries and in some cases even turn deadly.

In an effort to move the needle on public safety, Hydro Ottawa launched its new and improved electrical safety campaign in early 2017.

It was partially in response to a survey conducted by the Electrical Safety Authority and the Ontario Energy Board that revealed many Ontario residents aren’t aware of the dangers of electrical infrastructure. Though the nation’s capital received a positive score on the survey, Hydro Ottawa nevertheless used the opportunity to further raise public awareness on how to stay safe near electrical equipment.

Education & Engagement

The stars of the campaign are Felix the fox and Sam the squirrel, who encourage viewers to “Become as smart as a fox about electricity.”

As part of the campaign, Hydro Ottawa offers in-school presentations to demystify electrical safety and conservation for kids. They are offered free of charge to Ottawa area schools, for students from kindergarten to grade 8.

Students who participate in the educational sessions are then asked to go online with a parent to take Hydro Ottawa’s “whiz quiz.” Those who complete it are entered in a draw to win an iPad.

Another major component of the campaign is a series of six short and engaging videos featuring Felix and Sam, as the fox prevents the squirrel from hurting himself. As Dan Séguin, Hydro Ottawa’s Manager of Media and Public Affairs, explains, squirrels often unwittingly cause power outages by tampering with hydro lines.

While Ottawa’s squirrels may never learn to stay safe around power lines, there are plenty of steps the city’s human residents can take to protect themselves.

To learn more about electrical safety, go to hydrottawa.com/besafe.

The campaign focuses on six key takeaways:

1. Call before you dig, so you know of any underground cables.

2. Stay at least 3 to 6 metres from power lines.

3. Stay at least 10 metres away from downed power lines.

4. Never touch a power line (with your hand or anything else).

5. Never tamper with electrical equipment, such as transformer boxes.

6. If your vehicle is touching a live wire, stay inside until the power has been disconnected.