May 17, 2021
For many homeowners, warmer weather means the start of at-home DIY projects. While undertaking tasks such as pruning trees, cleaning out eavestroughs and building decks or fences are traditional weekend activities for many homeowners, they can also present dangers. May 17 to 23 is Powerline Safety Week, and the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) is imploring homeowners to avoid fatal distractions by practicing three critical steps: stop, look, and live.
With COVID-19 restrictions keeping more Ontarians at home than ever before, homeowners have increased time and flexibility to tackle outdoor improvement projects. However, with greater opportunity comes increased risk. It is as important as ever for people to remain vigilant and exercise caution when working near powerlines.
“It’s essential to stay at least three metres away from overhead powerlines. One distraction—no matter how big or small—could cause a life threatening injury or fatality,” says Dr. Joel Moody, ESA’s Chief Public Safety Officer. “Whether you’re building a new deck, or taking on a smaller landscaping project, everyone has a part to play to stay safe.”
Even if homeowners don’t come into direct contact with a powerline, they can still receive a shock. Electricity can jump from lines to nearby objects, which is why ESA is reminding Ontarians to stay safe and aware around powerlines.
For more information about powerline safety, including tailored tips for homeowners, construction workers, and arborists, visit esasafe.com/safety.
Stop, Look, Live: Powerline Safety Tips for Households
- Locate powerlines. Before you start any yard work or outdoor home maintenance, locate powerlines. Be especially aware of powerlines that may be hidden by trees.
- Stay back three metres. You don’t 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 stay at least three metres (10 feet) back from powerlines.
- Carry ladders sideways. Never carry ladders upright as they may come in contact or close to powerlines. Check for overhead powerlines before standing a ladder up.
- Stay away from dangerous areas. Keep away from electrical transmission and distribution lines, and never climb utility poles or towers. If a toy ends up inside a fenced-in transformer station, call the Local Distribution Company. Don’t try to retrieve it yourself.
- Call or click before you dig. Powerlines are sometimes buried underground. Before you start construction on a deck, fence or other landscaping project, contact Ontario One Call. Ask to locate all utility-owned underground infrastructure. This includes natural gas, communications and power lines, and water and wastewater pipes. Private underground powerlines such as supply to a pool or separate garage is not located by the utility.
- Plant trees away from overhead powerlines. Avoid the problem now, before trees grow up into the powerlines. If your trees have already grown into the powerlines, contact your local utility or a utility arborist. Do not prune trees around powerlines yourself. More tree pruning and landscaping tips here.
- Watch for downed powerlines. If you see one, stay back about the length of a school bus (10 metres or 33 feet). Call 9-1-1 and the Local Distribution Company immediately and tell everyone to stay back.
- Talk to your kids about powerline safety. Help children find safe places to play, away from utility poles and powerlines. 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.
For more information about powerline safety, including tailored tips for homeowners, construction workers, and arborists, visit esasafe.com/safety