State grid warns of kite danger

Blackouts and fires are just two of the potential risks when people fly kites too close to electrical power wires. 

Flying kites on windy days can be dangerous, the State Grid Shanghai Co warned on Tuesday. Since March, the company has had to remove 14 kites from high-voltage wires in the city.

The company said a kite or its string tangled in the wires could lead to a major grid breakdown causing blackouts or even fires. It could also jeopardize train services.

On April 8, two maintenance workers from the company spotted a kite in the air above a pylon near Sijing Town in Songjiang District.

The strings of the kite were caught on a 220-kilovolt wire and a lightning conductor on top of the pylon.

An emergency team was dispatched. 

Removing kites and their strings is more difficult than many people think, the company said. 

“The workers risk their lives if they get a shock,” said the company's Zhu Shibei. “Meanwhile, they have to move very carefully to avoid damaging the wire.”

Although the company equipped workers with laser guns to burn the strings from the ground, they still had to climb up to the top of the 50-meter-high pylon to clear out the remaining strings entangled in the wires.

It took the workers seven hours to finally get rid of the kite. It was 2am before they could leave the scene.

According to the regulations on the protection of power facilities, kites are forbidden within 300 meters of electric wires.

On the same day the company removed the kite from the pylon, two men in Nantong in neighboring Jiangsu Province who flew kites in a gale were seriously injured.

One man lost four fingers and the other lost half of his palm when kite strings ripped through their grasp.

It took the doctors 16 hours to reattach the parts that had been ripped off, but they are now permanently disfigured. 

The state grid said that if a kite gets stuck on electric wires, one should never try to get it down but call the company at once. 

“But it’s better if everyone can realize how dangerous it is to fly kites anywhere near power facilities,” Zhu said.

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