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Illinois Country Living

Ken Macken
Ken Macken, Manager of Safety and Loss Control, AIEC

Safety & Health:

The Personal Side of Safety
Putting a face on safety makes the subject more important

Not long ago, I was at a conference and the keynote speaker was sharing a personal experience of a dear friend who was seriously injured in an electrical accident. I sat there in silence and began to think about safety and what it meant to me and how it affected other people. And after some thought, I realized that this presenter spoke with such passion because safety had become very personal for him. In a sense, safety had taken on a face…the face of his friend who had been seriously injured while working with electricity.

I share my thoughts on this because I realized that each one of us has a choice concerning safety, whether at our jobs or at home. I believe we can read articles in this publication or any other magazine, hear talks on safety and even go to conferences, but until safety becomes personal to us we will not fully become engaged in the deepest sense of what safety is all about.

For example, what if you found out one of your family members had been diagnosed with a serious heart condition? That personal experience may then prompt you to want to learn CPR. And if you were driving home from work one evening and saw someone stranded on the side of the road in the middle of a winter storm, you may think about how awful that would be if that were someone in your family, and you may take extra care to better prepare your, and your loved ones’, cars for winter storms. Why are these experiences different than simply reading about safety? It’s because safety became personal!

Have you ever allowed yourself to put a face to safety? Can you see how vital it is to protect those you love, including yourself, by taking safety very serious? If we all make the commitment to making safety personal, I believe that we can become a very safety-conscious state and we will all benefit.

Safe Electricity Puts a Face on Safety

The 2008 Safe Electricity public service campaign that was launched in January puts the face of Caitlyn MacKenzie on the importance of safety around electricity. Caitlyn was a 12-year-old, happy-go-lucky pre-teen from Edwardsville, Ill. who was tragically killed in 2007 when, damp from swimming, she touched an ungrounded outdoor lamp. This experience has compelled her family to use Caitlyn’s story to help others avoid tragedy.

Scott and Jamie MacKenzie, Caitlyn’s father and stepmother, along with Teresa and Bob Orasco, her mother and stepfather, have graciously agreed to share Caitlyn’s story for the campaign centered on teaching children electrical safety. “I never knew that something like this could happen from an ordinary household electric current,” says Scott Mackenzie. “You just don’t think something like this can happen to you, but it can.”

The emotional and compelling public service announcements were produced with the families’ own words. They eloquently underscore the sense of loss when a loved one is taken from them suddenly. In the ads, Teresa Orasco, Caitlyn’s mother, says, “If you are not educated about electrical safety, become educated. It’s important; you don’t realize how important until tragedy strikes.”


For More Information:

Ken Macken is the Manager of Safety and Loss Control for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, 217-241-7933,


© 2008 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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