Image of a ladder with text saying the distance between life and death is a 10-step ladder

Myths & Facts


There are many myths out there about powerline safety. ESA gives you the facts about some of these myths (with safety tips) so you can keep yourself and those around you safe.

Some of the most common myths around powerlines include:



If my ladder isn’t metal, it can rest on or near the powerline. No matter what a ladder is made of, it is a possible hazard. Be safe and keep all ladders 3 metres away from overhead powerlines.
I’m just pruning tree limbs. I won’t be using a ladder so I don’t need to worry. 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.
I’m just digging a couple of feet into the ground. don’t need to worry about underground lines.  The lines may be closer than you think, or a grading change may have happened over time. Better to be safe than sorry. For any sized dig, you must click before you dig! Contact Ontario One Call to request utility locates at It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s the law!
If a powerline falls on my car, I should get out and run to safety right away.  The car and the ground around it may be electrified so 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 (about the length of a school bus).
Your tool/ladder needs to touch a powerline to get a shock or burn.  More than 40%* of Ontarians mistakenly think this might be true – it is not. Anything that comes within 3 metres of an overhead powerline – a pruning tool, the tree limb or your hand – can give you a shock, burn or kill you.
Wearing leather gloves or safety boots can protect from a powerline shock. More than a third* of Ontarians believe this or they’re not sure. However, always stay at least 3 metres away from powerlines (including yourself and your tools). It doesn’t matter what safety gear you may be wearing.
I can use a wooden stick to prop up a powerline or knock down a toy tangled in a powerline. Even wood can conduct electricity. Never touch or come close to a powerline. Contact your local utility if you need help. 
Downed powerline wires don’t have electricity flowing through them. The wires move or arc when energized. Always assume a downed powerline has electricity flowing through it, even if it isn’t moving. Stay back at least 10 metres (or the length of a school bus), call 9-1-1 and the local utility. 
Orange cover-ups on powerlines will protect workers from electrical shock. More than 67%* of construction workers in Ontario believe this or they’re not sure. This is a deadly misconception. Orange cover-ups on powerlines are for identification purposes only, and you should always remain a minimum of 3 metres away from overhead powerlines.

*2023 Powerline Safety survey results

Video: Call Before You Dig

Mike Holmes explains why you need to contact Ontario One Call to locate underground services before you start digging.