Home & Work Safety

Home & Work Safety » Case Studies

Learn from These Mistakes

Take a lesson from these terrible, true stories about mishaps with electricity and natural gas. The "Don't do what they did!" links will take you to relevant safety information on this site, so you can prevent similar tragedies.

Don't Mess with Electrical Equipment
A 20-year-old man was electrocuted in California when he broke into the base of a streetlight and attempted to sever a ¾-inch electrical wire carrying 4,000 volts. The young man had wanted to darken the street to help his 17-year-old sister get a better view of the Perseid meteor shower. (Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram)
Don't do what he did!
Watch for Fallen Lines After Storms
A 48-year-old woman, her 11-year-old twin boys, a 14-year-old friend and the family dog went out walking after Hurricane Irene. Strolling ahead of the woman, the three boys and the dog walked into a puddle where a fallen power line was submerged in the murky water. They were all instantly electrocuted. The woman ran toward the fallen children. Upon stepping into the water near the boys, she was electrocuted too. (Source: Associated Press)
Don't do what they did!
A Fishing Pole Is Safer
A 43-year-old man in Kiev electrocuted himself while fishing in a river. The man connected cables to the main power supply of his home and placed the ends in the river. The electric shock killed the fish, which floated belly-up to the top of the water. The man waded in to collect his catch, having neglected to remove the live wires, and tragically suffered the same fate as the fish. (Source: Deutsche Press-Agentir)
Don't do what he did!
Know How to Cut Power in Case of Shock
An 18-year-old male restaurant worker kneeled to plug a portable electric toaster into a floor outlet. After a scream was heard, the victim was found convulsing on the damp floor, with one hand on the plug and the other on the receptacle box. The assistant manager went to the electrical panel but was unable to locate the appropriate circuit breaker. After telephoning the emergency medical service, the manager returned to the panel and managed to de-energize all the circuits-but not until 3 to 8 minutes after the man had first contacted the electricity! Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and the man was pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital. (Source: National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health)
Don't do what he did!
She Dried Her Hair in the Tub
A 33-year-old former beauty queen died from electric shock in her apartment. She dropped a hair dryer into the water while bathing. (Source: Warsaw Voice News)
Don't do what she did!
He Tried to Cut a Power Line
An Oregon man drove his truck into a mailbox, then collided with a utility pole. The impact flipped the truck onto its side and sent a 7,500-volt power line falling to the ground. The 25-year-old man apparently was uninjured in the collision and safely exited the truck, a witness told investigators. However, his luck ran out when he attempted to cut the line with a pair of pruning shears. When authorities arrived at the scene, the man was lying motionless and face down on the power line, the pruning shears in his hands. (Source: The Oregonian)
Don't do what he did!
A Sad Sailing Tale
A university student who was one of the best small boat sailors in the United States was killed when his boat mast touched a power line at a Massachusetts yacht club. The young man had recently won a boating championship and was to have assisted at the first U.S. Youth Championship Regatta. (Source: International Lightning Class Association)
Don't do what he did!
If the Tool Shocks, Get Rid of It
A 45-year-old man was putting metal siding on a house, using an electric drill while standing in the bucket of a backhoe. His older brother was standing beside him when the man began to scream and shake. The brother grabbed him, received an electric shock, and was thrown from the bucket. The man dropped the drill and then collapsed. CPR was administered at the site and during the 90-minute drive to the nearest hospital, where the man died. The brother indicated they had repeatedly had problems with the drill and had taken it to the repair shop several times with the complaint that it was delivering shocks. In each instance, nothing was found to be wrong with the drill. After the death the drill was tested one more time; it delivered a shock so intense that the electrician involuntarily threw the drill across the room. (Source: Southern Medical Journal)
Don't do what they did!
If You Smell Gas, Get Out Fast
A 39-year-old Canadian woman refused to leave her home despite a gas line rupture and was killed when the gas exploded. The woman's husband had hit a buried natural gas line while digging footings for a room addition. He went into the house and warned his wife of the gas leak, but she assured him she was safe. The man went back outside to wait for repair technicians to arrive. The explosion knocked the man down, and he was dragged away from the flames by a friend. The woman died in the fire. (Source: Alberta.com news report)
Don't do what she did!
That Cigarette Could Have Been His Last
A man who was upset because his girlfriend had left him decided to kill himself by causing a gas explosion in his apartment. After leaving the gas on for a while, he reconsidered and turned it off. Then he sat down and lit a cigarette. The resulting explosion blew the roof off the building, but (amazingly) no one was seriously injured. (Source: Bozo Criminal Reports)
Don't do what he did!