Navigate Up
Sign In

Power line safety

​Electricity is silent and invisible. Staying safe around electricity is all about awareness. Learn what hazards to watch for and how to live and work safely around power lines.
 

 Trees near power lines

 

​Trees are a big part of beautiful British Columbia. But trees near power lines must be maintained to ensure the safe, reliable delivery of electricity to our customers.

Potential hazards include:

  • trees growing too close to power lines can fall into the wires  
  • trees coming into contact with wires may become energized, creating a safety hazard for anyone who touches or goes near that tree 
  • a tree or a large branch falling onto a power line can tear down the entire line and break the poles holding the line in place
  • A tree or even a branch that is merely in contact with the power line can cause a power outage or start a fire

Trees and power lines on private property

Property owners are responsible for maintaining trees near secondary power lines serving their premises. In other words, you must ensure the wires from the street to your house remain clear of trees and other plant growth.
If you’re planting a new tree on your property, follow these steps to avoid having to cut down or trim your tree later on:

  1. Visualize the tree at its full size height and width when preparing to plant. As it grows and reaches its full height, it may present a hazard.
  2. Avoid planting trees near a power line.
  3. Plant large growing trees in an area where they will maintain a safe distance from the power line when fully grown and consider wind movement.
  4. Avoid planting trees near underground power lines. If there are underground power lines on your property, call FortisBC or BC One Call before digging.

Hire professionals to prune trees near power lines

Only trained professionals should trim trees around power lines. Untrained individuals have been seriously injured—and even killed, in some cases—when they attempted to do this work themselves. When having your trees trimmed or removed, you can arrange to have your power temporarily disconnected or wires temporarily removed by calling us at 1-866-436-7847. In most cases, there is no charge for this service.

Report hazards

If you see a tree making contact with a power line or a downed power line, keep a safe distance and call us immediately at 1-866-436-7847, or call 911.

 

 Look up and live

 

​Doing some exterior renos? Working on your roof or pruning trees? Before you start work around your property always look up and be aware of all overhead lines. Remember, electricity can “arc” or jump from a power line across a distance. Instead, before you start to work, look up and around to make sure you know where overhead power lines are and stay at least 3 metres or 10 feet away at all times.

 

Don’t take a chance with your life or those of your crew—keep yourself, your tools and ladder away from power lines.

  • Look for wires hidden in tree branches or vegetation. If you see a tree in contact with a power line, stay away, as anyone touching or standing near the tree could receive an electric shock. Call us to report the hazard at 1-866-436-7847.
  • If you’re working on a roof, always keep at least 3 metres away from overhead power lines.
  • Metal equipment such as ladders, pipes and cranes can conduct electricity, and they don’t have to be touching a power line to be energized. When moving equipment, have someone watch and warn you if you’re getting too close. Keep yourself and your equipment at least 3 metres from overhead distribution power lines and 6 metres from high voltage transmission lines at all times.
  • Be careful with irrigation pipes around power lines, as they can conduct electricity through both water and metal. Look up and be aware of overhead power lines when moving them, and store them a safe distance from any power lines—at least 10 metres away—to avoid causing a shock.
 

 Downed power lines

 

​Downed power lines can be deadly. Even if it doesn’t look live, a downed wire still carries power that can jump a distance.

If you come across a downed power line, stay at least 10 metres (33 feet, about the length of a school bus) away and call us at 1-866-436-7847 (24 hours) or 911 immediately to report the hazard.

 

A downed wire on your car

If a wire falls across your car, don't get out—you could become a path for electricity if you touch the ground. Call for help, and wait. But if you must get out (because of safety concerns), carefully follow these steps:

  1. Open your door and prepare to jump clear of your vehicle.
  2. Jump out and land on both feet. You must not touch the vehicle and ground at the same time with any part of your body or clothing.
  3. After you land, keep both feet on the ground at all times. Keep calm and shuffle along the ground with feet together until you’re at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from the vehicle.
 

 In case of emergency

 

​In case of an emergency, or if you see a downed power line - stay at least ten metres (or 33 feet) away, call us at 1-866-436-7847 (24 hours) or 911 immediately.

Have questions?

Contact us today.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for seasonal safety tips.