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Down and dangerous: Many B.C. families unaware of life-saving electrical safety rules

VANCOUVER: New BC Hydro research finds most B.C. families are unaware of what to do if they come across a downed or damaged power line.

A survey conducted on behalf of BC Hydro finds more than three-quarters of parents with children aged 18 and younger did not know they need to stay back 10 metres and call 911 if they encounter a downed or damaged power line. Many incorrectly believe they need to call BC Hydro, and more than one in 10 suggested posting to social media was the best action.

When asked if they had discussed electrical safety and power line hazards with their children, more than half have not.

BC Hydro knows parents take important actions to keep their kids safe and educate them every day and hopes to help raise awareness and bridge some of this knowledge gap through its Electrical Safety Week campaign running from May 6 to 10.

As part of this employee-driven initiative that promotes electrical safety in schools across B.C., BC Hydro employees visit kindergarten to Grade 7 classrooms to deliver a one-hour safety presentation aimed at informing kids on how to develop safe practices around electricity and know what to do if they come across a downed or damaged power line. The initiative started in 2015 and has grown year-over-year, educating more than 36,000 students since its inception.

The electricity system in B.C. is safe; however, damaged equipment can pose risks to the public. Downed overhead power lines can occur for many reasons, including damage from storms, ice, motor vehicle or heavy equipment accidents, or in rare cases, equipment failure.

Close calls are usually preventable. That is why BC Hydro is reminding people to talk to their children and loved ones about the following, as it could save a life:

  • Every downed power line should be considered live and dangerous, even if it’s not smoking, sparking, or making a buzzing sound.
  • Downed lines are an emergency, and if a member of the public comes across one, they should:
    • Stay back at least 10 metres (33 feet) – about the length of a city bus.
    • Dial 911 and let the dispatcher know a power line has fallen or is damaged.
    • Keep others in the vicinity at least a bus-length away until BC Hydro crews and first responders arrive on scene to make the area safe.

For more information on electrical safety, visit

BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468