Make electrical safety a priority on your summer to-do list

BCH infographic FINAL draft

When working around the yard, have a word with yourself about electrical safety

Thinking it's time to clean out your gutters? Planning to add a fresh coat of paint to your home's exterior? Trees and plants growing out of control in the backyard?

As the weather warms up, outdoor chores seem to pile up on our to-do lists. Working on jobs like these, you may find yourself close to power lines near your home.

The Community Against Preventable Injuries (Preventable) estimates 95 per cent of all injuries in B.C. are preventable. The organization's slogan — "Have a word with yourself" — encourages everyone to take a moment and think about the potential consequences before doing something risky.

Just watch this video, from Preventable, of a man pruning a tree in his own backyard.

Maintain a safe distance when working near power lines

It's important to remember to stay a safe distance away from power lines. If you're working near high voltage lines, electricity can "arc" or jump from power lines across a gap, to ladders or tools that you are using.

Stay back at least three metres (10 feet), or the length of an average four-door car, from any power lines.

Use this visual guide to identify what sort of tower, poles and lines might be nearby

Have a word with yourself before tackling any outdoor tasks this summer:

  • Place ladders away from overhead power lines and ask someone to hold the ladder for you. Ensure the ladder is the right height and type for the job that you're doing; never reach too far to complete a job.
  • Stay back from tree branches growing near power lines.

Check overhead power lines. If you need to prune or remove a tree on your property near a power line or transformer box, call BC Hydro first at 1 800 224 9376.

Digging in your yard? Call BC One Call for free at 1 800 474 6886. They'll send you a site plan showing the location of underground power lines, gas lines and other facilities, or a technician will visit your site and provide physical markings.

Image of graphic showing three keys to electrical safety

Fallen power line? Look up and down, stay back, call for help

Do you know what to do if you come across a fallen power line, or see a damaged wire? Always assume fallen or damaged power lines are live with electricity. The fallen or broken line may not be sparking or smoking, but power lines should always be considered extremely dangerous.

Follow these steps:

  • Stay back at least 10 metres (33 feet), or the length of a bus from a fallen power line.
  • Call 911 and let them know that a power line has fallen or is damaged.
  • Keep other people in the area at least a bus-length away.