AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – High on the wish list of some children this holiday season is a shiny new drone, so FirstEnergy is trying to educate young operators about the responsibilities and dangers of flying the remote control aircraft.
The skies are becoming more and more crowded with drones.
The FAA says across the U.S., more than 230,000 people have been licensed to operate drones as a hobby and more than 350,000 for commercial purposes.
The safety campaign being launched by FirstEnergy is warning drone operators to steer clear of power lines, transformers and sub stations.
“There is a risk of flying that drone into our equipment and it causing a service disruption, but we’re not as concerned with the service disruption as we are with the personal safety. We can replace damaged equipment with new equipment, but we can’t replace a life,” said FirstEnergy spokesperson Lauren Siburkis.
As part of the campaign, FirstEnergy is encouraging new pilots to learn more about the hazards of flying a drone through a video game on the utility’s website.
“The game is very similar to how you would operate your drone outdoors, but you’re doing it in a safe virtual space and they can get familiarized with the safe practices before they actually try their drone outdoors,” said Siburkis.
FirstEnergy is reminding parents that the gift of a drone comes with great responsibility. That’s why they are urging families to make sure that young operators get their license to fly, register their drone with the FAA and stress the importance of practice and safe flying at all times, while steering clear of electrical equipment and other hazards.
“Avoid windy and dark conditions when you’re getting used to flying and always keep your drone at or below 400 feet,” said Siburkis.
If you do fly a drone into a power line, transformer or substation, before you do anything else, call FirstEnergy.
“So that we can come and safely remove it. You won’t be in trouble, we just want to make sure that you stay safe and the community is safe as well,” said Siburkis.