Maddalone explained facets of the power-line display and how electricity passed through the system. He flipped switches to turn on light bulbs and manage the power as his co-workers used poles to touch live wires at different times with a glove, a boot, a mock squirrel and other items.
“Trees are our No. 1 reason for outages,” Maddalone said.
Ann Carnrike, a customer service supervisor in Oneonta, asked students if they should get water to put out an electrical fire.
“No,” the pupils replied in chorus.
“Right,” Carnrike said, adding that water can conduct electricity. “Call the fire department.”
To reach high wires and clamps, workers use 8-foot poles, which in previous years were made of wood but now are fiberglass, Maddalone said. Presenters also demonstrated use of protective gloves, hats and rubber sleeves.
“Most important,” Maddalone said, “we have our training.”
Kathy King, customer service manager, started the local demonstration program 15 years ago, said Carnrike, who currently arranges sessions. Not as many schools sign up for visits as in past years, because cuts to district budgets mean fewer field trips, Carnrike said.
The demonstration program also is offered to adults, NYSEG officials said, and the Oneonta Fire Department was scheduled to attend a session Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday morning, Shaver and Simmons moved deliberately and carefully as they set items against the live wires. Simmons said he also was watching pupils’ reactions to see if lessons were getting across.
“You can see the expression in the crowd — you know that you’re making a point,” Simmons said. “Fourth grade is a good time to do it. They’re very impressionable.”
Andrew Carrington, 10, a fourth-grader at Riverside Elementary School in Oneonta, said the demonstration was “very good.”
“I thought it was very educational,” Andrew said. “It taught us a lot of safety tips.”