National Grid e-newsletter
Fall 2013

Electrical and Natural Gas Safety

Preparing for a storm

Fall is nearing its end and winter is coming, a time when there can still be thunderstorms and hurricanes, and snowstorms are inevitable. It’s a good idea to be prepared for this type of extreme weather, and also know what to do when the storm hits.

Emergency kit
Preparing an emergency kit is always a smart thing to do, because you never know when a storm is going to knock out the electricity in your house. It’s best to keep an emergency kit in a place where you can find it easily. Remember, there may not be any lights on during a storm.

Emergency Kit

The kit should contain a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries, bottled water, canned food and a can opener, and a first aid kit.

Keep the emergency kit in one of the upper floors of the house instead of the basement, where the items could be damaged by flooding.


Flooding

Sandbags on flooded road Most flooding is caused by heavy rain, but it can also happen during cold weather or after a snowstorm. When the ground is frozen and snow melts, the water can’t seep into the ground, so it flows into lakes, streams, and rivers. If the banks can’t hold the extra water, it overflows and causes flooding.

In addition to putting together an emergency kit, you should plan and practice how you and your family would leave the house in the event of a flood. This is called an evacuation plan. Look around the outside of your house to see where there is higher ground. That’s where it’s going to be safer to walk, because there will be less water.

Listen to the radio for information during times of flooding. If you think you might need to leave your home, bring in any outdoor furniture and move important or expensive items to an upper floor. Unplug electrical appliances. If there is water already on the floor, do not touch electrical devices.

If a flood strikes and you are leaving home, try to stay away from deep or moving water. Make sure your parents don’t drive into flooded areas. If the car gets stuck in the water, get out, walk away, and phone for help. Do not return to your house until you are told to do so by the police or fire department.

Downed power lines
Power lines can fall during a heavy storm. If you see a downed power line, stay away and call 911. If a power line falls on your car, stay inside the car and call for help.

For more information on how to stay safe around electricity and downed power lines, visit the Electrical and Natural Gas Safety portion of our Website.

 

Energy and your environment

Hydroelectric power

Rainbow over dam

Hydroelectric power is electricity produced by moving water. Moving water turns the blades of a turbine in a hydroelectric plant. The turbine is connected to a generator, which creates an electric current.

This type of power is called renewable energy because it will never run out. There is a limited supply of coal, oil, and natural gas, but water will always be running. Hydroelectric power, also called hydropower, is the most widely used renewable energy in the world. It accounts for almost 20 percent of the world’s energy production. Some countries, like Paraguay and Norway, produce all of their electricity through hydropower.

In the United States, only about 7 percent of the electricity is produced by hydroelectric plants. That’s because many parts of the country do not have the water or land necessary for hydropower.

How hydropower works
There are two basic things every hydroelectric plant needs: A large body of water and a big drop in the height of the land. Water flows from higher land to lower land and flowing water is needed to spin the blades of the water turbine.

The land can’t be flat because the water won’t flow. So there are very few hydroelectric plants in Florida and Kansas, where the land is flat. However, in states like Oregon, Washington, and Idaho—where there are large changes in the height of the land—there are many hydroelectric plants.

A hydroelectric plant consists of a dam, which is built at the high point of a body of water, and water turbines, which spin when the water passes through. The dam stores the water and a large pipe delivers the water to the turbines. After the water flows through the dam, it spills back into a body of water called a reservoir.

Advantages of hydropower
Because no fuel is burned, hydroelectric power is good for the environment. It doesn’t release harmful chemicals into the air. Hydropower is inexpensive, too. States with many hydroelectric plants have low rates for electricity.

Since the water always flows, hydropower can be generated all the time. It doesn’t depend on wind or sunshine.

Disadvantages of hydropower
Dams and hydroelectric plants are very expensive to build and sometimes disturb fish and wildlife in the area. That’s because you’re taking a natural body of water and making big changes to it. It can affect water quality, too. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a good location for the plant.

Most people feel that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and that hydroelectric sources are a good way to produce clean, reliable electricity.

For more information on hydropower and other renewable forms of energy, visit the Environment and Energy Efficiency portions of our Website.

Hydroelectric power station
Grand Coulee Dam
Hydroelectric Generator
 

Electrical and Natural Gas Safety

Natural gas safety

If you do any type of outdoor work around the house that involves digging, it’s important to call Dig Safe® at 811 before you start. The same holds true for anyone your parents might hire to do the digging, like a professional landscaper or contractor.

Why? Because you need to know if there are any underground gas lines, electric lines, telephone lines, cable TV lines, or other utility lines. These lines need to be checked or replaced from time to time, so they are located just a few feet under the surface.

If you or someone digs and accidentally hits a utility line, it could cause serious damage and might even create a gas leak. This could disrupt the gas or electric service in your neighborhood. Even worse, it could result in a shock or serious injury.

Gas leaks
Another part of natural gas safety is detecting gas leaks. Gas leaks rarely happen, but when they do, it’s important to know what steps to take.

By itself, natural gas has no odor, so a chemical is added that smells like rotten eggs. This makes it possible to tell if gas is leaking.

If you think there might be a gas leak in or around your home, call National Grid at your state’s gas emergency number:

Massachusetts: 800-233-5325
New York: 800-892-2345
Rhode Island: 800-640-1595

If the gas odor is strong, or if you hear a hissing sound, get everyone out of the house immediately and call the gas emergency number from a neighbor’s house. Do not call from your house or use the phone for any reason. Also, do not strike a match or switch lights or appliances on or off. The spark could cause a fire. Do not return to your home until we tell you it is safe.

For more information on how to use natural gas responsibly and how to recognize a gas leak, visit the Electrical and Natural Gas Safety portion of our Website.

 

Ethics

Standing up for what’s right

Standing Up for what's rightIn almost every situation, you know the right thing to do. But you don’t always do it. Or you at least think about doing something you know might be wrong.

Why is that?

One of the reasons could be something called “peer pressure.” Your peers are kids who are around the same age as you. Sometimes you feel pressure to act the same way they act and do what they do.

It’s a natural way to feel because you want to have friends and you want people to like you. So sometimes you “go along with the crowd” even though you think it’s the wrong thing to do.

For example, if you were with a bunch of kids and they were making fun of someone in your class, you might join in, even if you liked that person. Because if you didn’t do what they were doing or told them to stop, they might not like it. And you’re thinking that they might not like you, either.

So that puts you in a tough spot. You don’t really want to make fun of someone for no reason but you don’t want to feel left out, either.

What should you do?
First, ask yourself, “What’s the right thing to do?” You probably know already, but if you’re not sure, try to imagine being in the other kid’s place. How would you feel if your classmates were making fun of you? Probably not very good. So why would you say something that will hurt someone else?

Next, don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe is right. Don’t be afraid to stand up for other kids who might be shy or scared. Even though some kids like to “go along with the crowd,” there are many more who will think a lot of you for speaking up when something is wrong. Sometimes it takes a little bit of courage, but you’ll always feel better afterward.

Right and wrong
As you grow older, you’ll see other things that you know in your heart are wrong. You know that it’s wrong to hate people because of their skin color or religion. You know that fighting and hurting someone is wrong. You know that drinking, smoking, and drugs are wrong. You know that stealing and damaging someone else’s property is wrong.

The only way to stop those things is to speak out and stand up for what you believe is right. Don’t worry about what some of the kids might think. Your real friends will look up to you.

For more information on ethics, why they matter, and how you can use them, visit the Ethics Explorer portion of our Website.

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