While the clearing of ice and snow from pathways is an ongoing safety concern each year after snow falls on Toronto, one winter safety issue that you may not be aware of is the potential for electrical shock from street lighting, handwells, bus shelters and other electrical fixtures.
The risk of shock is serious enough that Toronto Hydro has repeatedly urged people to "stop, clear and call" if an incident of contact voltage occurs.
After salt is used to melt ice, the salty and wet winter conditions can be particularly conducive to electricity. If electrical infrastructure becomes corroded, then stray voltage can pose a serious risk, perhaps especially to people who are walking their pets.
Walking dogs usually have two feet on the ground at all times, and this can create a path for electricity. Pedestrians out with their pets have been urged to be mindful of and manoeuvre around electrical street equipment during the winter months.
Toronto Hydro first received reports of stray voltage on Toronto streets in late 2007, and now the electric company warns of the risk each year.
Pets who come into contact with stray voltage may freeze, collapse or suffer seizures. In the event that this happens, the electric company advises that you stop immediately and identify any other potential hazards before taking action. Keep in mind that touching your pet could cause you to be shocked and render you incapable of getting help.
Next the electric company advises you to move away from the area of stray voltage and call 911 for assistance.
While steps have been taken in recent years to reduce the risk of electrical shock on city streets, Toronto pedestrians are still urged to take reasonable precautions.
If you would like to learn more about the legal aspects of keeping public and private property safe, then Gluckstein Lawyers' occupiers' liability overview may prove helpful.
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