Utility co-ops in the USA have taken to social media to warn Pokémon Go players about the risks involved in looking for Pikachu at poker plants and substations. One of the most popular apps at the moment, the Pokémon Go game asks players to find and catch species of Pokémon in real world locations.
Pokémon can turn up everywhere, from grocery shops to public art installations, historical monuments or hospitals. Electric co-ops in the USA worry that the game could lead players into entering electric substations, putting them in dangerous situations.
“Electric utilities cannot control where the Pokémon appear, and players should make sure they catch their Pokémon from a safe distance,” said in a statement Jeff Beaman, Central Electric member services director. “Any game or activity that distracts people from the possible dangers around them and potentially brings them in proximity to our electric equipment and lines is a major concern for all us.”
The co-op has also given Pokémon Go fans some electrical safety tips such as never to touch electric equipment, including transformers and power lines. Players are also advised not to climb utility poles or enter electric substations.
San Patricio Electric Cooperative issued a similar statement telling Pokémon Go players to “catch their Pokémon from a safe distance”.
“Any game or activity that distracts people from the possible dangers around them and potentially brings them in proximity to our electric equipment and lines is a major concern for all us,” read the statement.
Tricountry Electric Co-operative also highlighted the potential safety threats involved when playing the game in the vicinity of utility equipment.
“Instruments and facilities used for the generation and transmission of electricity pose very real safety threats,” Tricounty Electric general manager, Brett Perkins, said in a statement. “Climbing a utility pole or a fence surrounding a substation is not only trespassing, it’s just plain dangerous. Serious injury, or worse, is a likely result. Poles, substations, and transformers are for processing electricity-not for playing games”.
Alabama’s Electric Co-operatives also urged electrical safety for Pokémon Go players, while also encouraging parents of children to talk to them about how to be safe around electricity.
The statements follow a similar reaction from the National Safety Council, which aims to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities and on the road. The council said that distraction was a well-documented threat to safety and urged pedestrians to exercise caution when playing the game. It also implored drivers to refrain from playing Pokémon Go behind the wheel. “Reports of close calls associated with playing Pokémon Go already are rolling in. The Council urges gamers to consider safety over their scores before a life is lost. No race to ‘capture’ a cartoon monster is worth a life,” added the statement.
In the UK the Foster Care Co-operative encouraged parents to check the NSPCC guide to help keep children safe when playing the game.