Look Up and Watch For Power Lines

Things we see every day can almost fade from view, but failure to notice high-voltage power lines can be a deadly oversight. Safe Electricity and Sangre de Cristo Electric want to raise awareness of the dangers of overhead power lines and necessary precautions to take around them.

We usually don’t even think about power lines when undertaking outdoor activities, but taking a few moments to become aware of your surroundings is a critical step towards keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

Safe Electricity encourages everyone to follow these guidelines as they prepare to work outdoors this year:

  • Look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long metal tools like ladders, pool skimmers and pruning poles. Lower your tall equipment when you are moving it. Carry ladders and other long items horizontally whenever possible.
  • Be careful when working on or around your roof, installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes, doing roof repair work or cleaning gutters. Never go up on the roof in bad weather.
  • Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house.
  • Never trim trees near power lines — leave that to the professionals. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines. Contact a professional maintenance contractor.
  • Never climb trees near power lines. Even if the power lines aren’t touching the tree, they could touch when more weight is added to the branch.
  • If your projects include digging, like building a deck or planting a tree, call your local underground utility locator before you begin. Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines. This service prevents the inconvenience of having utilities interrupted and can help you avoid serious injury.

Another instance where people often come in contact with power lines is through vehicle crashes. In accidents that bring down power lines, our instincts tell us to flee danger. However, it’s almost always best to stay in your vehicle and wait for help. Call 911 and wait until the utility arrives and ensures the area is de-energized.

If you must get out because of fire or another danger, jump clear of the vehicle without touching it and the ground at the same time. Then hop with your feet together — don’t run or stride. Electricity spreads out through the ground in ripples, like a stone dropped in water. The voltage is highest in the ring closest to the vehicle and decreases with distance. Hop with both feet together so that one foot won’t be in a higher voltage zone than another, which could make you a conductor for electricity.

If you come upon or witness an accident involving toppled power poles and lines, don’t leave your vehicle to approach the accident scene. Often our inclination is to step in, help those in danger and offer assistance to the injured. However, in accidents involving power poles, the best thing you can do is call for help. Wait for trained assistance to arrive or else you could become an additional victim in need of rescue.