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Trading 'likes' for injuries: BC Hydro links rise in public safety incidents to social media

VANCOUVER: A new BC Hydro report finds a rise in trespassing and public safety incidents involving infrastructure could be tied to the pursuit of the perfect social media post.

The report titled, “Living on the edge: British Columbians taking more outdoor risks for social media glory[PDF, 331 KB] suggests a 200 per cent increase in trespassing incidents at BC Hydro dams, reservoirs and recreation sites. The increase in incidents ranged from climbing transmission towers to swimming in restricted areas at dam sites.

The rise in public safety incidents involving its electrical system is likely motivated partly by the public’s desire to post experiences on social media. The report found nearly half of British Columbians have witnessed someone doing something risky outdoors to get the perfect photo, selfie or video. And while only about 15 per cent admit to participating in this behaviour themselves, the evidence on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and other social media channels suggests the problem is likely more widespread.

The biggest social media risk-takers are younger British Columbians, and men are twice as likely as women to engage in this type of behaviour. The most dangerous things British Columbians have done to achieve the ‘perfect’ shot include: standing at the edge of a cliff (16 per cent), knowingly disobeying safety signage or trespassing (12 per cent) and taking a selfie from a dangerous height (9 per cent).

This behaviour should not be taken lightly, as it can result in some very serious injuries or death. In fact, about 2 per cent or an estimated 80,000 adult British Columbians admit to injuring themselves while trying to get a photo or video, and each year people across the world are killed in selfie-related incidents – many involving water, electrical equipment or falling from heights.

BC Hydro’s top priority is public safety and recommends the following to stay safe near dams, reservoirs and electrical equipment:

  • Stay clear of generating facilities including dams, powerhouses, power lines and all electrical equipment.
  • Obey all warning signs and keep out of fenced, gated, and restricted areas.
  • Never contact or climb transmission towers.
  • Stay on designated trails and within observation areas, they are clearly marked.
  • Stay well back from the edge of a waterway where footing may be slippery or the bank unstable.
  • Listen and watch for sirens and strobe lights. These are warnings that water levels are changing.
  • Stay outside of public safety booms and buoys.
  • Keep in touch – if hiking or heading out on the water, do not go alone and let someone back home know where you are or use GPS if in range.

For more information on how to stay safe around BC Hydro’s electric infrastructure, visit bchydro.com/safety

Contact
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468

[1] Online survey conducted by Majid Khoury of 800 British Columbians from May 17-19, 2021. Margin of error is +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.