trees in powerlines

Electrical Safety Authority warns Ontario homeowners about overhead powerline dangers during fall cleanup

Survey shows only 19 per cent of Ontarians feel they know enough about powerlines to keep safe

Mississauga, ON — September 14, 2021 — While many Ontarians have spent the last 18 months busying themselves with activities around the house and property, a new survey commissioned by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) has revealed a significant proportion of homeowners are not likely to check for overhead powerlines when doing yard maintenance.

Powerlines present significant dangers with either direct or indirect contact. In fact, comparing 2020 to 2018, there have been four times as many overhead powerline contacts made by Ontarians in non-work settings. According to the survey of over 1,000 Ontario homeowners, 39 per cent don’t look to see where powerlines are located when doing maintenance and repair work on their homes.

“With people choosing to spend more time outside because of the pandemic, it’s important to remember to look up and look out for powerlines when completing renovations or doing yard work,” said Patrick Falzon, powerline safety specialist, ESA. “Keeping yourself, loved ones and any high reach tools at least three metres away from powerlines can help everyone stay free from electrical harm.”  

ESA has compiled a list of safety tips for homeowners to use when out around the home this fall, particularly as unpredictable weather conditions may warrant extra time and attention for yard work: 

  • Distractions can be deadly. Before you start any outdoor work, locate all overhead powerlines. Be especially aware of powerlines that may be hidden by trees, particularly after storms.
  • Stop, look, live. Stay back 3 metres. You do not have to touch a powerline to get a deadly shock. Electricity can jump or “arc” to you or your tools if you get too close. Have someone watch to make sure you and your tools stay at least three metres (10 feet) back from powerlines.
  • Plant trees away from overhead powerlines. Avoid problems down the line by determining how large the tree will grow and planting it a safe distance away, so it does not grow into a powerline. If your trees have already grown into the powerlines, contact your local utility or a utility arborist. Do not prune trees around powerlines yourself and carry your ladder sideways – never upright!
  • Call or click before you dig. Before you start construction on a fence, deck, or other landscaping project, check with Ontario One Call. They will tell you about any utility-owned infrastructure you may need to work around. Underground services that you own requires private locates.
  • Talk to your kids about powerline safety. ESA’s survey showed 71 per cent of Ontario homeowners with children don’t talk to them about powerline safety. Remind children never to climb trees near powerlines. Make sure they look closely, since leaves and branches can hide the wires. The green boxes on lawns or in parks are also off-limits.
  • Watch for downed powerlines. Stay back 10 metres. You can get an electrical shock from a downed powerline, even if you don’t make direct contact. The ground around the downed powerline may be energized. ESA’s survey revealed 25 per cent of Ontario homeowners have encountered a downed powerline. However, half don’t know to keep at least 10 metres away. If you see one, stay back and call 911 and the Local Distribution Company immediately.

For more information about powerline safety, visit

About the Electrical Safety Authority

The Electrical Safety Authority's (ESA’s) role is to enhance public electrical safety in Ontario. As an administrative authority acting on behalf of the Government of Ontario, ESA is responsible for administering specific regulations related to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, the licensing of Electrical Contractors and Master Electricians, electricity distribution system safety, and electrical product safety. ESA works extensively with stakeholders throughout the province on education, training and promotion to foster electrical safety across the province.

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