Eight men were electrocuted in three separate but similar accidents with citizens band (CB) radio antennas on April 2 in Salisbury, North Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana and on April 4 in Abbeville, Louisiana. In all three accidents CB antennas hit electrical power lines killing four men in Salisbury, three men in New Orleans, and one man in Abbeville.
In the Salisbury accident, the CB antenna, attached to a mobile home porch the men were attempting to move, brushed a power line. In New Orleans, the three men were trying to raise a CB antenna which hit a nearby power line and in Abbeville, the man was attempting to install a CB base antenna at a residence with several other people who were injured in the accident.
The accidents are being investigated by Consumer Safety Officers from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's field offices in Atlanta and Dallas to assist the Commission in developing a regulation for CB antennas. The Commission has proposed a regulation that would require manufacturers to supply consumers with warning labels, safety installation instructions, and written information on hazards at the time they purchase antennas.
The Commission confirms that at least 123 electrocutions were associated with communications antennas in 1976. This information is derived from death certificates submitted to the Commission from each of the 50 states. About one-half of these deaths were known to involve CB antennas, 15 percent were television antennas and the remaining 35 percent were outside communications antennas of unspecified type. The majority of the accidents occurred as a result of antenna contact with power lines while the antennas were either being erected or taken down.
The Commission suggests that consumers seek professional advice before installing an outside antenna. Local utility companies and CB organizations can provide the consumer with information on local electrical code regulations and antenna mounting.
The Commission advises consumers to use the following precautions when installing an antenna:
Select a safe site to install the antenna.
The distance between any power lines and the installation site should be at least one and one-half times the height of the antenna and mast assembly. Make the distance even greater, if at all possible. Since all overhead power lines look somewhat alike, consider them all dangerous and stay well away from them.
If possible, ask a professional to check out your site and help you install the antenna.
NEVER work alone; always have someone near who can summon help. Certain clothing may help, but don't depend on it for your life (rubber boots or shoes, industrial rubber gloves and a long sleeve shirt or jacket).
Check weather conditions. Be sure that it hasn't rained recently and that the lawn is not wet or muddy. Make sure that rain or thunderstorms are not predicted for the day you decide to install the antenna.
The wind can blow the antenna into a nearby power line. Don't install or remove antennas in moderate or heavy winds.
If you need to use a ladder, use a WOODEN or PLASTIC ladder, and
If possible, have someone present who has been trained in electric shock first aid.
Properly assemble the antenna according to instructions (do this on the spot where the antenna is to be put up).
"Tie off" the mast with dry, non-conductive ropes so you can control the side sway and the direction of fall as you walk the assembly up. If it does start to fall, let go of it and let it fall.
Don't attempt to walk up a mast over 30 feet tall. Get a professional to do it for you.
Once the antenna is up in full vertical position, securely fasten it by tying it to the side of the house or by using "guy" wires, and
Ground the antenna according to the National Electric Code.
DO NOT assume that just because you're on a roof, you're isolated from ground. You can still be electrocuted or fall off the roof.
Emergency Aid For Shock
It is advisable to work with several other people when installing or removing an antenna. One person should stand aside to direct the effort and watch for signs of trouble. If someone does receive a shock, don't touch the victim while his body is still in contact with the electricity. Instead, pry or pull him away from the source of electricity with a length of dry wood, rope, a blanket, or another non-metallic object.
If breathing has stopped, use mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until doctor or ambulance arrives and relieves you. If the heart has stopped, closed-chest cardiac massage must be done simultaneously. The ambulance should be informed when called that an electric shock has occurred; it can bring proper equipment such as an intensive care or cardiac care mobile unit equipped with a heart defibrillator and carrying trained personnel.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to help ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC's Hotline at 800-638-2772 or teletypewriter at 301-595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @USCPSC or by subscribing to CPSC's free e-mail newsletters.
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