Safety shuffle | Grades 4-7 | BCHydro Power Smart for Schools

Safety shuffle

Play a game to learn how to stay safe around power lines and shuffle away from danger.

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30 mins


Learn about the various ways electricity can travel that could potentially be hazardous or unsafe. Watch a video and play a game to learn how to stay safe around power lines.

BC Hydro


What you'll need

  • "Stay safe" video
  • Skipping rope or similar rope about two metres in length. One for each pair of students
  • "Safety shuffle" game teacher handout. Print one copy or view on tablet.
  • Outdoor or indoor space large enough for students to space out in pairs with skipping ropes.


  1. Do the "Safety code" activity and/or play the video to review information about how electricity travels and how to stay safe around power lines.

Electric shuffle

  1. Power down the classroom, take the skipping ropes and "Safety shuffle" game questions and go outside or to the gym to play a game.
  2. Divide students into pairs, provide each pair with a skipping rope and have students space apart, holding the rope taut between them with arms outstretched horizontally. Explain that students represent the power poles, and the rope represents the power line between the poles. The object of the game is to prevent the power line (rope) from drooping and touching the ground.
  3. Designate four areas as the 'safe zone', that are at least 10 metres away from the students.
  4. Taking turns, ask students to choose from one of these categories: touch potential, step potential, and arcing. Read a question from that category. Have the class call out their answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at the same time. If any pair answers incorrectly they need to shuffle their feet, two shoe lengths each towards each other. The skipping rope will begin to sag. Continue with the questions and when a rope touches the ground, all the students shuffle to the safe zone and call out 911. The game can then begin again. Students whose rope never touches the ground are the winners.

Modify or extend this activity


Curriculum Fit

Science 4, 7

Curricular competencies

Applying and innovating:
  • Co-operatively design projects
  • Transfer and apply learning to new situations
  • Represent and communicate ideas and findings in a variety of ways, such as diagrams and simple reports, using digital technologies as appropriate

Physical and Health Education 4, 5, 6, 7


  • Strategies and skills to use in potentially hazardous or unsafe situations (Grade 4)
  • Basic principles for responding to emergency situations: following safety guidelines (Grade 6, 7)

Curricular competencies 

Social and community health
  • Identify and describe strategies for avoiding and/or responding to potentially unsafe, abusive, or exploitive situations

Career Education 4, 5, 6, 7


  • Personal development 
    • Goal-setting strategies - emergent leadership skills, safety hazards and rules at school, at home, and in the community (Grade 4, 5)
    • Leadership (Grade 6, 7)

Curricular competencies

  • Demonstrate safe behaviours in a variety of environments (Grade 4, 5, & 6)
  • Demonstrate safety skills in an experiential learning environment (Grade 7)

Teaching Notes

Electrical safety tips

  • Never put fingers or other objects in an outlet
  • Keep metal objects out of toasters
  • Never use anything with a cord or plug around water
  • Never pull a plug out by its cord
  • Stay away from substations and power lines
  • Don't climb on power poles
  • Never fly kites near power lines
  • Stay away from broken or fallen power lines
  • Never touch or climb trees that are near power lines
  • Never touch big, metal transformer boxes with warning signs
  • Obey warning signs

Electrical safety, electricity, and power lines

Power lines are conductive meaning the electrical current runs through them with the least resistance. However if something makes contact with a live power line like a tree, kite, or ladder, the electrical current may flow to the ground. The place where the current touches the ground is the highest voltage and from that point the electrical current spreads out in irregular concentric circles. The voltage or electrical intensity decreases as it moves further from the source. 10 metres or more from the source of contact, like a downed power line, is a safe distance.

Touch potential is the ability electricity has to find its way through touch to get to the ground. If a kite gets tangled in a power line, the electrical current could travel through the kite and you to reach the ground. Birds do not get zapped when standing on a power line, however they would if they straddled two power lines, or touch their beak to the ground while standing on the power line.

Step potential is the ability electricity has to move through your body as you step away from the source of electricity. As electrical current flows through the ground the voltage decreases in concentric rings or ripples as you move further from the source. However, if you move away by lifting one foot, the change in voltage between the concentric rings can travel up one leg and down the other. Instead by keeping your legs together and shuffling your feet, the electrical current will stay in the ground. 10 metres is the safe distance calculated based on the voltage in the power lines here in B.C.

Arcing is the ability electricity has to jump through the air to find a path to ground. The term arcing describes the shape the electrical current uses to get to the ground. Some jobs around your home may take you close to power lines, such as trimming trees, working on your roof, or doing exterior renovations. It is important to keep yourself and any tools you’re using at least three metres (the length of a four-door car) away from power lines near your home. This is because electricity can "arc" or jump from power lines across a gap, to tools or ladders that you're using.


  • Assess students’ ability to respond safely to an electrical safety hazard like a downed power line.
  • Assess students’ understanding and knowledge of touch potential, step potential and arcing.
  • Assess students’ participation and cooperation in the game.

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