In tent wiring there are involved four factors with which every evangelist should be very definitely concerned. These are:(1) life hazards (shock), (2) fire hazards, (3) utility, and (4) attractiveness. Items I and 2 carry with them a tremendous responsibility. We are in the business of saving souls, and it seems incredible that we should allow potential shock and fire hazards to be lurking about in our tents.
Remember, 115 volts can kill. As this is being written I have before me my scrapbook which records many newspaper accounts covering deaths where the combination of moisture and electricity were involved. What might produce a mere biting sensation under normal dry conditions, often becomes a death trap when the earth is wet. I have case histories of at least a dozen such victims. All these casualties took place during the past few months in the Central States.
Tents are subject to the weather and frequently present electrical hazards when caution is not exercised. Under no circumstances use metal sockets. There is always a chance for this or that spot to become moist or muddy and wet. It is always best to use porcelain or composition sockets, and never allow them to become readily accessible to the public, especially children. Touching metal sockets or other ungrounded electrical equipment, when the surrounding earth is wet, surely invites tragedy. The highest authorities having to do with safety, such as the National Safety Council, will bear me out in this statement.
I have seen tents wet inside and out, owing to blowing rains and improper maintenance by tentmasters. I have seen exposed wiring, used in connection with signs in front of the tents, and metal sockets right out in the weather, subject to contact by the public. Many a life has been snuffed out because of such carelessness.
We have records of tents being destroyed because of electrical short circuits ; and again not only the tent and other equipment are involved, but lives as well. In regard to conductors and service equipment, including fuses, laws governing such installations very frequently differ according to the locality. However, there are certain fundamental rules which always apply.
The most commonly used conductor for ordinary electric light wiring, including tents, is known as No. 14 B&S Gauge, and the maximum size fuse ever to provide for protection of such circuit is 15 amperes. It is easily distinguished because of the hexagon front. When purchasing, insist upon getting only such as bear the Underwriters' label, which is your guaranty against unapproved types.
To substitute coins in place of fuses is a criminal procedure, and considered so from time to time by courts when decisions are handed down involving fatalities. When this only safety valve has been removed and a short circuit or overload develops, the insulation on the conductors burns, and there is a fire. A month ago a man and his wife lost their lives through the use of coins in place of fuses, according to our local fire chief's investigation.
I would definitely recommend at least two circuits for every tent-wiring installation. First, in many instances, the voltage is better, and consequently, the brilliancy of the lamps is improved. Second, should an outage take place, caused by either a short circuit or a loose connection on one circuit, you still have lights on the other, and this is a decided advantage for more reasons than one.
During recent years a new overload and short circuit protection device has been developed and placed on the market. Millions are already in use, especially by the Government. This device is known as a multibreaker, and costs very little more than the conventional dead-front fused entrance switch. Not only has it the added advantage of being compact, but also there are no fuses to replace. It works through a thermal element. When a short circuit or overload takes place, a little toggle, similar to the toggle switch in your home, flips over and the current is off. To re-energize the circuit, merely locate the trouble, correct it, and then move the toggle to original position. The main fuse panel. or multibreaker, should be well grounded, as provided by the National Electrical Code.
Another important item to note is the use of well-designed reflectors which avoid glare. Use indirect lighting if at all possible. The fluorescent type is best.
Instead of the conventional stringer of conductor from bracket to bracket, I would recommend the use of underground cable. Bury this a few inches below the surface, then pass through a bushed opening into the steel standard, and up this standard to an opening which has been drilled to accommodate the fixture conduit which screws into the threaded opening. All wiring is concealed and out of sight, and this is a definite advantage. A similar arrangement with added control equipment is also desirable for the stereopticon. Adhering to these suggestions will certainly add to the attractiveness and utility of the tent arrangement.
I would likewise recommend underground wiring for the sign in front. If the ordinary goosenecks are not used, then a neat neon trim would be a real attraction. Switch controls for stereopticon, signals, general illumination, three and four way switches, remote control equipment, photoelectric cells and similar arrangements, designed to function with minimum effort at the exact time desired, should add immensely to the success of any effort.
I have a supply of helpful booklets entitled Electrical Safety in Wartime, which are especially applicable for the home. However, it is full of vital information for the tent company as well. It is approximately the size of the Ministry. I shall be glad to send it to anyone without charge. Merely enclose five cents in stamps to cover postage and address me at 155 Norfolk Avenue, Fort Wayne, Indiana.