Last week, the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) announced plans to host a safety campaign aimed at educating young children about using electrical items at home and the dangers of playing near electrical installations outside. The month-long campaign will be held at the Children’s Museum in Al Sarooj this month and target government school students between the ages six and 12 with 67 schools taking part.
“This initiative is a very important one and we did not want to do it in a way that would be dreary for young children,” said Amal al Zadjali, campaign manager. “It is for this reason that we decided to make this more of a fun and edutainment event where children have a good time while learning valuable lessons about the dangers of playing with electrical items at home and electrical installations.” The children will get to interact with Omar and Aliya, the two campaign characters who will guide the children around the museum explaining to them the potential risks of playing with electrical equipment.
The campaign was launched as a result of the recent deaths of two young children by electrocution. According to statistics released by AER, most children who suffer from injuries related to electrical shocks are between the ages of one and four. They are usually injured indoors when playing with appliances or poor wiring and outdoors when playing beside electric installations.
“I recently saw a photograph of two children playing right next to a power substation with its gate wide open,” said John Cunneen, executive director of AER. “We fine power supply companies for such negligence and the fine money we have collected over the years is what we are using to fund this programme. We want to use the money that has been collected over the years from these companies for a constructive purpose. So all those electricity companies have in a way also contributed towards this campaign.”
The idea behind doing this campaign is to encourage children to talk about what they learnt during their day at the museum with their friends and families. “This campaign is the first of its kind in its approach. However, the idea is not just to educate children. We realised that the best way to spread the message effectively was to educate the younger generation. They can relay the message a lot more effectively than if we were to hold a campaign like this geared towards grown ups,” John said.
This will mark the first leg of the campaign with future installments taking place in different cities and towns around the country. “Right now we are focusing only on government school students because we want to reach the most number of children possible within a short period of time,” said Qais al Zakwani, deputy director of AER. “But we intend to roll this campaign out nationally reaching out to children outside Muscat as well,” John added.
About 1,000 children are expected to attend with three schools attending every day for hour-long sessions at the museum. Two retired teachers will assist the children with the day’s activities posted on the AER Kids Safety Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel. “We hope that by making the children feel responsible to be safe around electronic items, they will pass the message on to other children and adults as well,” Amal said.