Wiser and safer | Editorial

The sun has returned. After months of being cooped up inside because of the endless dark and soggy weather, we are suddenly released out into the wild to shed our clothes and sometimes our common sense.

People who normally behave with great restraint head outdoors without a hat or sunscreen to jump into water that is still too cold or perhaps onto a boat with too many people on board with too much alcohol. On the beach, parents don’t worry enough about children who — despite having had swimming lessons — need close supervision.

Yet, according to statistics from the King County Department of Health, the county and its communities have had great success in lowering the number of accidental child deaths here. The county’s safety record is one of the most successful in the nation.

There are many reasons why. While overall, cars are much safer than ever before, the agency attributes the lower rate of deaths and injuries to the ubiquitous efforts to educate and enforce laws and safety guidelines. There are strict seatbelt and drunk driving laws, and now a prohibition on the use of cell phones. A great effort has been made to ensure parents and caregivers know how to buckle a child into a safety seat correctly and to encourage all to learn how to swim. Over the last several years, thousands of Boy and Girl Scouts, lifeguards, teachers, coaches and others know CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

However, there is not a class for ordinary citizens to learn and understand basic safety requirements around electrical power — in their homes or on the street. The accident that occurred late last month in the Town Center, where an Island woman hit a key electrical vault outside The Mercer Apartments, is a case in point. The dozens of onlookers could have been in great danger. Firefighters held their breath as they shooed people away and blocked off the area. The damaged switches could have electrified the ground surrounding the accident scene.

It is time to look at ways to teach everyone about electricity. A downed power line or broken utility vault may look benign, but it is anything but.


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