In 1969, Robert Stevens was a Line Department employee on patrol in west Omaha. Suddenly, he spotted a situation that could have had devastating effects.
A newly erected pipe or television antenna near a 13,000-volt line in a residential back yard caught his eye. Robert stopped and talked to the homeowner, pointing out the danger of the situation. Unaware, she asked him to remove the antenna, which her young son had installed.
The hazards posed by such situations often go unnoticed until it is too late. That prompted OPPD in 1969 to launch a safety awareness campaign to engage the public. The hope was to raise awareness to spare customers serious injury or prevent a fatality by reducing or eliminating many avoidable accidents.
The campaign consisted of a series of safety-oriented advertisements carried in various newspapers in the OPPD service area. Radio spots and other printed materials such as posters and signs for students, scouts, ham radio and heavy equipment operators, rural customers and others supplemented the campaign.
The 46-year-old message remains relevant today:
- Children should never play around utility poles.
- Avoid flying kites or model airplanes near power lines or fooling with electrical devices.
- Homeowners or workmen should avoid becoming careless or unaware that their activity could be dangerous. For instance, accidents can occur when people use electric hand tools in the rain or on wet lawns, or use metal ladders near power lines.
- Always avoid downed wires
- While overhead radio and television antennas are not as common as they were in 1969, both should still be kept away from power lines.
The safety campaign was also aimed at OPPD employees. It urged them to always be alert and to get involved when they saw dangerous situations.
By doing so, it was possible that beyond providing reliable service, they just might end up saving a life.