by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- 143 major kite-related outages affected 31,813 persons from January 2017 to March 2019
- Entangled kites linked to electrical fires
- Restoring kite entanglement power outages increases cost of providing service to customers
The potential hazard of kite flying near power lines cannot be overemphasised, especially around the Easter period.
The Grenada Electricity Services Ltd (Grenlec) has issued a strong warning to parents and guardians to ensure that this Easter, children are monitored closely to prevent the entanglement of kites with power lines.
Statistics from Grenlec show that from January 2017 to March 2019 there were 143 major kite-related outages which affected 31,813 persons or two-thirds of Grenlec’s customers.
Grenlec’s Manager of Transmission and Distribution, Eric Williams, said there are a number of other complications that occur when kites, threads and kite tails get caught around electric cables. “Apart from power outages, we also have power surges, and these are spikes in electrical current which can negatively impact electronics and other appliances in the home and businesses.”
Entangled kites have also been linked to electrical fires. “When kites get entangled on our lines, the lines clash, and you have sparks that fall to the ground and cause fires as well,” Williams said.
In the event that no one gets hurt after having their kite entangled, for most, the cost implication for the Grenlec to restore electricity following a power outage is seldom considered.
Grenlec’s Manager, Planning and Engineering Dwayne Cenac said the cost of power outages can be significant for both Grenlec and customers.
“It’s a major strain on the company’s resource to restore power after distribution cuts caused by kite flying. We have to send the crews out there first of all to investigate, then to restore power. This takes fuel in the trucks, the wear and tear of the trucks, the additional materials to restore power to customers. So these add up and that increases the cost of providing service to customers as well,” he said.
While kite flying for the public may be a harmless sport, one bad move can be quite fatal as flying kites near power lines run the risk of someone being electrocuted.
“The risk of electrocution is very real. The network that we operate ranges from 230 volts up to 33,000 volts, so exposure to high voltages, therefore, increases the risk of electrocution. The weather condition as well; if outside is wet or damp, your kite tail gets moist, then that increases the risk,” said Cenac.
Even when an entangled kite does not cause outages right away, it is still considered hazardous and can cause future outages, especially during the rainy season.
Every year around Easter, Grenlec is proactive in sensitising on this important issue, using social media and television to get their message of safety across to the public.
The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has also issued a reminder to kite flyers, warning them of the potential dangers that kite flying near power lines can cause. They have also issued a reminder to people to refrain from leaving kites to fly at nights. Grenlec understands that kite flying is a wonderful Grenadian tradition that is enjoyed by many, but their message this and every Easter period remains the same as they continue to advocate for safety.