Powerline Safety Myths & Facts
MYTH: As long as my ladder isn’t metal, it can rest on the powerline.
FACT: No matter what the ladder is made of, it is a possible hazard. Be safe. Keep all ladders away from overhead powerlines.
MYTH: I’m just pruning tree limbs. I won’t be using a ladder so I don’t need to worry.
FACT: Anything that touches a powerline – a pruning tool, the tree limb or your hand – can give you a shock, burn or kill you. Better idea: call a utility arborist or your local electric utility. Have a trained utility arborist prune the tree for you.
MYTH: I’m just digging a couple of feet into the ground. I don’t need to worry about underground lines.
FACT: The lines may be closer than you think, or a grading change may have happened over time. Better to be safe than sorry. Call before you dig (it's the law)! Call Ontario One Call to get a cable locate.
Make sure you know what's in the ground before you dig. Don't be like Lucky the Squirrel – call or click Ontario One Call one week before you dig.
MYTH: If a powerline falls on my car, I should get out and run to safety right away.
FACT: The car and the ground around it may be electrified and you could be killed if you get out of the vehicle. Stay inside until the utility workers tell you it’s safe to get out. Tell everyone to stay back 10 metres (33 feet, about the length of a school bus).
MYTH: To get a shock or burn, I need to actually touch a powerline.
FACT: Just getting too close could cause a severe shock, burn or even death. Electricity can jump or ‘arc’ through the air to you or any object that gets too close. Always stay at least three metres (10 feet) away from powerlines.
MYTH: If I’m wearing rubber boots or safety boots, I won’t get a shock.
FACT: Even safety boots rated for electrical work (with the green omega patch) may not provide 100% protection from shock. Normal wear and tear or even lots of dirt can compromise their ability to protect you. Always avoid contacting or coming too close to powerlines.
MYTH: I can use a wooden stick to prop up a powerline or knock down a toy that’s tangled in a powerline.
FACT: Even wood can conduct electricity. Never touch or come close to a powerline. Contact your local utility if you need help.
MYTH: A fallen powerline doesn’t have electricity flowing through it, so it’s safe to be near it or move it out of the way.
FACT: Always assume a downed powerline still has electricity flowing through it, even if it isn’t sparking. Stay back at least 10 metres (33 feet), call 9-1-1 and the local utility.
Video: How dangerous are overhead powerlines?
Lucky the Squirrel learns the hard way how dangerous overhead powerlines can be.