At Alectra we are committed to ensuring the safety of the public and our employees. Throughout our service territory chances are you have seen overhead powerlines, likely within your neighbourhood or green transformer boxes that indicate underground services. The first step to ensuring your safety is to understand and be aware of the hazards surrounding powerlines. High voltage powerlines and transformers are unforgiving and deadly. If you are doing yard work this spring or if you work with equipment such as backhoes, dump trucks, ladders or excavators chances are you could be working extremely close to overhead or underground powerlines.
Between 2008 to 2017 19 Ontarians have died as a result of contact with powerlines. Although there has been a downward trend in electrical fatalities overhead powerline contact remains the leading cause in utility-related electrical incidents.*
It’s statistics such as these that actively remind us why it is our priority to raise awareness and continue to educate the public on electrical safety.
We want our employees and customers to always think, act and respond safely. We collected a list of common misconceptions around powerlines and the facts to debunk them so that the next time you pull out your ladder to trim the tree on your front lawn, you will know exactly what dangers to avoid.
Myth: As long as my ladder isn’t metal it can rest on the powerline
Fact: No! No matter what material the ladder is made of it represents a potential hazard. Be safe and keep all ladders away from overhead powerlines.
Myth: I’m just trimming tree limbs; I won’t be using a ladder so I don’t need to worry.
Fact: Anything that touches a powerline, whether that is a pruning tool, the tree limb or your hand can give you a shock, burn or kill you. Call an arborist or Alectra Utilities and have one of our trained forestry crew members trim the tree for you safely.
Myth: I’m just digging a couple of feet into the ground. I don’t need to worry about underground lines.
Fact: Underground lines may be closer to the surface than you think or a grading change may have occurred over time. Be safe, rather than sorry and call Ontario One Call before you dig. You can read all about safe digging practices here.
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 or 33 feet.
Myth: To get a shock or burn, I need to actually touch a powerline.
Fact: Just getting too close could cause you to receive a severe shock, burn or even kill you. Electricity can jump or ‘arc’ through the air to you or an object that gets too close.
Myth: A powerline that’s been knocked down 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 or 33 feet (the length of a school bus), call 9-1-1 and Alectra Utilities.