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Stray Voltage: No Shock This Time of Year

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Con Edison is asking New Yorkers to be on the lookout for stray voltage. That's when corroded electrical cables send a current through objects at street level, like manhole covers or lamp posts.

Sidney Alvarez, a Con Edison spokesman, said humans may not notice stray voltage because they wear shoes. But dogs are at risk.

“If your pet begins yelping for no apparent reason or is a little bit snippy with people, what you want to do is remove them from the area immediately,” Alvarez said.

Earlier this month a pit bull was reportedly electrocuted on the Lower East Side.

Last Wednesday, a stretch of Sixth Avenue was closed for half a day while Con Edison work crews looked for the source of an electric current.

Incidents like this tend to happen more in winter, due to snow, ice, and rock salt causing wires to fray. To get ahead of the problem, the utility is sending out trucks specially equipped with voltage sensors. They cruise the streets at 3 and 4 in the morning, when traffic is light.

In 2004, Con Edison reported 210 incidents. Last year, the number was down to 21.

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