March 24, 2019

Always Stay Safe Near Power Lines

power lines

As children head outside each summer to play, it’s important that they understand a few safety fundamental around power lines. Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative wants everyone to stay safe, and has issued several tips to help parents ensure that summer is the fun it is supposed to be.

The first thing to remember is that electricity always searches for the easiest path to ground. The key to safety near overhead power lines is to never become that easiest path.

  • Do not climb or play in trees that grow near power lines.
  • Never, ever climb power poles or transmission towers.
  • Touching a power line is deadly, even if you think the object you’re touching it with won’t conduct electricity. Never touch a power line with your hand or any other object, whether the line is in a tree or on the ground.
  • Tree houses and forts are fun, but must never be built in trees that are growing next to power lines.
  • Teach children to tell an adult if they see trees growing close to or touching power lines.
  • Most importantly, teach children to find an adult immediately if they see a power line that has fallen into a tree or onto the ground. Make sure they know to stay away from it.
  • Never climb the fence around an electrical substation. If a child loses a ball or a pet finds it way inside the fence, kids should tell an adult who can contact SMECO.
  • Every object should be treated as if it conducts electricity, because most do. Make sure balloons, kites, fishing lines, and aluminum ladders are kept far away from overhead power lines. Any of these items may conduct electricity and can bring that electricity through the person holding the object on its way to the ground.
  • Electrical appliances should be kept away from water.
  • Never sit on or play near the transformer boxes found in many neighborhoods.

Tips for Adults, Too

Safety is not just for kids. Adults need to be careful, too.

High voltages of electricity are carried through power lines, and there is only a coating of insulation to protect them from weathering. If you or anything you’re touching contacts the power line, the results could be fatal. Electricity will run through your equipment and you, and that current heats up and burns the tissue inside the body. If you are the easiest path to ground, the results are deadly.

Some things to remember:

  • When using farm equipment or other machinery, including metal ladders, make absolute sure no part of it comes in contact with an overhead line. The equipment and you will become the easiest path to ground. If you are working close to power lines — like trimming trees, working on the roof, or renovations the exterior of your home — keep yourself, your ladder, and anything you are holding far away from the power line.
  • Be mindful of overhead lines when carrying ladders, pool skimmers, and pruning tools.
  • If a tree is in touching an overhead power line and you try to remove the tree, you can become the easiest path to the ground.
  • Contact SMECO to cut off power if you are doing work that requires close contact with overhead lines attached to your home.
  • Always use a licensed electrician for all electrical work.
  • Never plant trees near power lines. Trees that will grow 20 to 50 feet tall should be planted at least 30 feet from overhead lines.

In addition to overhead lines, SMECO has many underground electric lines. Call Miss Utility at 811 before you dig to have underground utilities marked.

To learn more about SMECO, visit its Leader member page.

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