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Safety of Electrical Substations

Updated April 17, 2017

Electrical substations are a key component of the electricity grid transmission system. When electricity is generated in power stations it is transmitted over long distances at high voltage, to reduce transmission loss. This high voltage is converted to a lower voltage for use by households and businesses. Because of the high voltage components in substations it is important that safety precautions are taken to ensure that citizens are not electrocuted.

Gates and Fencing

Substations are typically surrounded by metal fences to make them inaccessible to the public. Entrances to substations are blocked by gates that can only by opened by technicians. These fences are often topped with barbed wire or spikes to prevent people from gaining access by climbing over the fences.

Warning Signs

High voltage signs are placed on fences and gates to warn of the potential danger of electrocution. These warning signs are also placed on the side of the substation. These signs often contain text such as "danger of death -- electricity -- keep out" or "electrical supply station -- danger -- all unauthorised persons are forbidden to enter." These warning signs often include a symbol of a man being electrocuted.

Grounding

In the event a substation is damaged, it's possible that the metallic casing of the substation or the metal fencing around the substation may come into contact with live electrical cables. This damage may be caused by high winds causing trees to fall on the substation. To prevent harm to the public, the metal components of the substation casing and fences must be connected to a ground. This means the electrical charge will flow away and into the ground.

Public Education

Public education programs through websites, television advertising and presentations in schools help raise awareness of the hazards of substations and discourage people from trying to enter them. It is particularly important that children who may not understand warning signs understand the dangers of high voltage.

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About the Author

Thomas James has been writing professionally since 2008. His work has appeared on the science-fiction blog Futurismic. He writes about technology, economics, management, science fiction, politics and philosophy. James graduated from Trinity Catholic School and holds A-levels in physics, maths, chemistry and an AS-level in English language.