How Early Electricians Dealt With the Dangers of Exposed Wires

How Early Electricians Dealt With the Dangers of Exposed Wires

When electricity first became available in homes and businesses in the late 19th century, the hazards of exposed wires were not well understood. As a novice electrician in those early days, I had to learn through trial and error how to deal with the dangers of this new technology.

Learning the Hard Way About Exposed Wires

In the early years of commercial electricity, insulation on wires was minimal or non-existent. I often found myself installing exposed copper wires along walls and ceilings. At first, I did not realize the risks that these bare wires posed. However, after a few close calls, I quickly gained an awareness of the dangers.

The first time I got a serious shock, I was installing exposed wires in an attic. As I was wiring up a new lighting circuit, my elbow accidentally brushed against a live wire. I felt a powerful jolt shoot through my arm that knocked me off my ladder. After that incident, I started wearing thick rubber gloves whenever handling exposed wires. However, even gloves did not fully protect me.

On another job, I was tidying up some tangled wires in a basement. Despite wearing rubber insulation, I still got a painful shock when my pliers slipped and touched two exposed copper conductors. I realized that even experienced electricians could get careless around live wires.

Pioneering Safety Standards for Wiring

After several close calls with bare copper wires, I became an advocate within the electrical community for improved safety standards. Here are some of the key changes that I campaigned for:

It took many years before electrical codes caught up with these safety recommendations. However, each new standard helped reduce accidents from early electrical systems.

Staying Vigilant Around Electrical Hazards

As an early practitioner of the electrical trades, I had to remain extremely cautious when handling exposed wiring. Here are some of the precautions I took to protect myself:

Though electricity brought many conveniences, it could be deadly if mishandled. By maintaining vigilance and following rigorous safety procedures, early electricians like myself were able to manage the dangers of this marvelous but hazardous invention. The lessons we learned paved the way for the safer electrical systems we enjoy today.