Just returned from a trip to a small town on the Mexico/Arizona border. If you think you've seen some horror stories, well I just wish I had a digital camera. Never saw a single WP enclosure at the meters, just a socket with wires going into 30 amp indoor enclosures for the DC. Most had missing knockouts at child level. The newer ones have a 1" riser, the rest just have wires dangeling from the roof edge down to the meters. Common practice is to take multiple taps from an existing buildings service at the weatherhead and string over to neighboring buildings to another meter, all open wiring. Saw many switches dangeling from wires in the shops with tape wrapped around them. Looks like old garden hose is used for smurf in some of the nicer places. Never saw a single romex clamp or a KO bushing, wires just hanging out of the KO when there was a device box which there was not in about half the cases. I was wondering if there are any available statistics on fires/electrocutions in Mexico?
Don't know anything about Mexico, but I have been to Romania, and once you get out into the sticks, it's sounds about the same. You might be suprised as to how few there are. When you are raised in that sort of environment, you quickly learn how to deal with it. The problem here in the states, IMHO is that we have had such a safe system, for so long, that few people understand how to deal with something out of the ordinary. In places like that, "out of the ordinary" is in fact the norm, and you deal with it. Kids learn to not stick fingers in where electricity might be, and so on. Going to places like that, make me appreciate people like Joe T. and Mike Holt, and despite all of the doom mongers, and the occasional utility quack not wanting to deal with leaky wires, the US utilities are very safe.
Side note, does anybody know just how much electricity is generated in the North American continent in a single day? I have never been able to find out.
If you live in New York City, you also become very familiar with wiring practices similar to what's cited in the above articles.
As a child I spent a lot of time in less-than-ideal apartment buildings (to put it mildly) and my mom and I were forced to do a LOT of kluges in order to get electricity into certain rooms without light or to get electricity into darkened hallways after the soon-to-be-torn down tenement building we lived got its hallway lights cut off (we were the last tenants in the entire three-storey building).
This was an apartment where the 20 or so wall sockets (plus the ceiling lights in the rooms) were all wired to one 15-amp mini-breaker in a rusty box in the basement.
We ran a long string of #16 zip cord through a hole in the wall and draped it over a hook in the ceiling. That was then connected to a lamp holder scavenged from one of the dead wall sconces.
Then there were two apartments we lived in where the wall outlets were all surface-mount jobbies connected with #16 zip-cord.
The building I live in now has a garage-door opener wired with a flying splice to a dangling piece of BX cable. The control wire circuitry to the key-activated switch is a literal rat's nest.
Fluorecent lights dangle from the ceiling in the basement from stumps of lamp cord hot-wired into ceiling boxes.
I have read cases in the newspaper of many derelict buildings and their tenants being forced to "borrow" power from adjacent structures after the absentee landlords have had electricity services cut off.
I have been guilty of many such hotwires in my younger days. You know how the old cliche goes....necesity is the mother of invention.
A lot of people who live in more modern (or well-to-do) communites are not used to such hack-jobs and would most probably freak out at the very thought of them. But I've lived with them...and yes, you learn to deal with it and just BE CAREFUL around them.
Train, Right you are about the locals being extra careful. I had already considered this and in fact one street vendor noticed me examining a meter and told me to be careful. Seems they have a healthy respect for the potential, and rightly so! Brian