Deadly Voltage: A National Problem on our Public Streets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., Feb. 18, 2016 — (PRNewswire) — The tragic electrocutions this week of two dogs, one while walking on a public sidewalk in a Chicago suburb and the other in Washington DC, represent the most extreme examples of what can happen when electrical faults, called contact voltage, are not actively looked for or are ignored.

"Contact voltage is the presence of electricity on any publically accessible object." according to Mark Voigtsberger, President of Utility Testing and Geographic Information Systems (UT/GIS, UTGIS) "These incidents in Chicago and DC could have easily killed a toddler or an adult."  Initial news reports quote both dog owners as being shocked themselves as they attempted to rescue their pets.

Contact voltage is often called stray voltage.  Stray voltage is a unique condition applicable only to the agriculture industries.  Contact voltage more often than not is a result of some internal or external wiring problem and at a much higher electrical potential than stray voltage.

"2016 already has a number of reported contact voltage events," said Voigtsberger. "They come in from across North America and most are found on our city streets."  So far this winter:

A dog was electrocuted by a light pole in Washington DC.
A dog was electrocuted on a sidewalk in Chicago, IL.
A dog and owner were both shocked from a light pole in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada.
A dog was shocked from a light pole in the Province of British Columbia, Canada.
A dog and owner were both shocked in Southern California from a junction box.
At a different location, several persons were shocked in Southern California from a light pole.

While Voigtsberger and his firm have not investigated either dog electrocution case from this week, he states: "Based on 20 years experience and the narratives in the news reports, it is highly probable both cases involved electrical potentials close to or over 50 volts AC.  50 volts can be lethal to humans."

Previous research by Voigtsberger based on actual field measurement data determined an average of 1 in every 337 light poles to have an electrical potential on it.  From that, Voigtsberger extrapolates at any given moment there are about 250,000 unidentified publically accessible contact voltage sources along US streets.

"We've found 6 contact voltage sources so far this year- two the hard way," said Voigtsberger referring to this week's electrocutions, "But there are still a quarter million of them left out there.  It is very likely that many other persons and dogs have been shocked without being reported.  It is a mistake to think these are one time occurrences.  Both Chicago and DC have had contact voltage problems in the past."

UTGIS recently launched Advanced Contact Voltage Testing Services (ACVTS) and a new line of instruments to help municipalities and utilities identify these electrical hazards before they can injure or kill.  ACVTS is the first and only contact voltage testing capable of directly reading any voltage level on an object and map out the spread of the voltage potential in the surrounding area.

UTGIS- Providing contact voltage testing, water leak detection, hydrant maintenance/flushing, sign asset management services and GIS mapping, is Veteran owned and a member of the National Association of Veteran Owned Businesses.

Contact:  Mark Voigtsberger, President
(772) 237-9521

PO Box 881585
Port St Lucie, FL, 34988-1585

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

SOURCE Utility Testing and Geographic Information Systems

Utility Testing and Geographic Information Systems


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