As Powerline Safety Week comes to an end we’d like to recognize and reflect on the good work our utility members and their affiliates do across the province, in reminding people of how dangerous powerlines can be and of why it is so important for people to stay away from them.

As the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) has underscored this week, even the most seasoned of operators must be careful of powerlines. For example, dump truck drivers should always check for powerlines before they raise their load box, and if they do see a powerline, they should stay three meters away.

The ESA would also like to remind people that even downed powerlines could have electricity running through them; and that as the warmer weather comes around, and many of us are pruning trees or cleaning our eavesdrops, we also need to keep a three meter distance from all powerlines.

With so many people staying home during the current pandemic, a lot of outdoor improvement projects are no doubt underway and this requires vigilance regarding powerlines. It is easy to get distracted when working hard on such a project, but powerline safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Keep in mind that even coming close to a powerline without making contact can cause the electricity to jump or “arc” through the air and make contact with you or with equipment such as a ladder. And you should of course never attach or drape anything on a powerline and never grab a powerline for balance.

If trees have grown close to powerlines near your home, contact your local utility. Do not trim trees around the powerline yourself. And as always “call before you dig” to ensure underground cables and other utility equipment are located and marked.

There are also some myths out there that can be harmful to our safety. For example, the vast majority of powerlines are not insulated and can cause serve shock if you come in contact with them. Another myth is that as long as your ladder is not metal it can rest on a powerline. And if you are in a car and a powerline falls on your vehicle do not get out and attempt to run to safety, instead wait for an okay from utility workers.

Finally, we at the EDA would like to echo the ESA and local utility companies, and remind people that downed powerlines can be deadly. If you do see a downed powerline, and even if it is not sparking, stay at least 10 meters away and call 911 immediately.

Please be aware and stay safe out there.