I've been hammering on about poor quality geocaches for a while now. One of my least favourites is the Lamp
Pole Cache (LPC). Once you've done one, you've done them all. They are usually located in the middle of a parking lot at the local mall. Nothing to see here - move along please...
The other types that you come across fairly frequently - especially in the US - are green power boxes (padmount transformers), electrical transmission tower legs and sometimes even FAKE electrical boxes/equipment.
I have found quite a few such caches but never really seriously considered the risks involved. After all, whoever heard of anyone getting zapped touching those things?
I recently came across a blog that woke me up to the risks involved. The blog is by Johnnygeo who is a Health & Safety Professional working a large Canadian power utility company. He warns of the dangers of placing and finding geocaches that are located on or near electrical equipment.
Geocaches placed under the skirts of LPCs expose finders to the risk of being electrocuted from wiring that has shorted. What is particularly dangerous is when the cache is hidden inside the pole, where people are sticking their fingers near wiring. Even if the cache is not hidden inside the pole, people will still investigate there if the cache doesn't turn up immediately.
What's the danger with fake electrical boxes?
Johnnygeo says, "Children tend to stick their hands in anywhere and if a child can open a cover to something they’ll do it cause they’re curious. They learn what's safe and what's not safe by watching adults. If we teach kids that it’s okay to open up fake electrical boxes because caches are hidden in them, then I feel that we are placing children in danger."
What about green power boxes that you find in neighborhoods, parks and schools?
He says, "Generally those boxes are safe. Are they meant for playing on? The answer is no. A question is asked of me all the time, "Could this electrical equipment ever be unsafe?" The answer is a definite yes."
Cars hit this type of equipment all the time and the damage is not reported right-away. If damaged the equipment can be sitting there with their metal case energized. As soon as a person touches a piece of equipment they would be electrocuted. Also, a city can have the best electrical maintenance program in the world and still have the odd piece of equipment fail. This could be a green electrical box in front of your house or a lamp post in a park.
What about geocaching on a piece of electrical equipment (i.e. a transmission tower leg). The probability of a piece of
electrical equipment failing is low. However if it did fail, then if a person touches it, they become the path to ground - which is usually fatal. Even if it doesn't kill, it could still give you severe burns - as the nasty picture on the right shows.
So don't place geocaches on electrical equipment.
The other issue he deals with is that LPCs and electrical equipment are usually on private property, and you need the owner's permission to place geocaches there.
So in summary, if you are thinking of placing a geoache under the skirt of a lamp pole, or on a piece of electrical equipment - think again. Not only are these types of geocaches poor quality, and worthless pieces of trash they can also kill or maim.
Groundspeak needs to consider banning the hiding of any geocache on electrical equipment.
It would eliminate a lot of trash caches and reduce the risk for all of us.
Now if only we could find a way to ban all micros and nanos on the grounds of safety! '-)