Electricty - What Is It?

It’s February, the month of LOVE. We love all things electrical (hey, we’re an electric company) and we love kids. But let’s face it, the 2 can sometimes be a dangerous combination. We know kids; they’re curious, with endless questions. We know electricity. We also know that it can be unpredictable and dangerous without the knowledge of how to use it. Explaining it is vital and essential. And if you can do it with skill, then all the better. But how? Use a few tips to get you going as a first step.

  • Keep it simple. Tailor your explanation (complexity and length of explanation) around the age of your audience.
  • Make sure that the kids know that electricity can be dangerous and explain the situations to avoid like exposed wires and using electricity/electrical devices around water.

But do you know what electricity is? How will you explain it to a kid if you don’t? Here’s a quick refresher just in case.

Electricty – what is it?

While it’s always been around, we didn’t know the power of electricity or how to harness it until the1800s. It’s considered 2nd energy because it requires other sources of energy (like wood or gas) to produce it. Current and Static are the 2 forms of electricity.

Static electricity is created naturally when certain objects create friction by rubbing together. When water and ice collide and create big electrical charges or bolts, lightening is produced. Or a bit easier to understand, if you walk around and shuffle your feet on your carpet then touch something and get a shock, that’s static electricity.

Current electricity is what flows through wires in our homes. Its energy powers our lights, appliances, tv’s and computers. Batteries are also suppliers of direct current electricity. If it has an uninterrupted circuit to travel through, electrical current will flow. A circuit breaker or light switch work because they interrupt the flow of electricity.

Cool, but how is electricity generated? Okay, EVERYTHING, from people to toys, to dirt to the sun – all of it is composed of atoms. Those are tiny particles that contain, electrons, protons and neutrons. Normally the protons and neutrons are inside the center of the atom (nucleus) while the electrons orbit the nucleus. Electrons have a negative charge and the protons have a positive charge and together they stay in orbit and the atom is neutral. BUT when outside forces like a chemical reaction upset the balance, then there’s movement. Atoms may lose or gain an electron and that movement is what produces electricity. Following?

Power plants use fuels to generate electricity. How? They use chemical reactions, kinetic energy or mechanical force to alter atoms. Even places like wind farms or water plants use means to disturb the electrons to produce energy. Once created, the generated current travels through wires to transformers. Those in turn increase the voltage and the power can travel farther. But before the electricity gets to your house, it goes through a substation, which will convert it from high to low. Then onto smaller power lines, another transformer and lowered further. By the time it reaches a business or home it can be accessed by flipping a switch and voila – it’s powering your stuff!

Now that you know a bit more about electricity and how to explain it to the kiddos, don’t forget to ensure that your home is safe from any faulty electrical issues. We offer home safety inspections which can put your mind at ease and safeguard against these types of problems. Take the basic precautionary steps to ensure that all is well and schedule an electrical home safety inspection with Sylvester.

Categories