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Keeping Your Family and Neighborhood Safe

When thinking about your home or neighborhood, chances are you will not be thinking about the electric lines. It is easy to overlook their presence, as electric lines reside high above your roof and can run alongside property lines or near trees. Nevertheless, electric lines can pose serious hazards.


Trees can be an electric line’s worst enemy. Strong winds and storms can blow trees over or break branches, pulling electric lines down from poles or supporting structures. It is possible for the line to remain energized and potentially electrify the tree and nearby objects.


Arcing between electric lines and trees can also create a dangerous, even fatal situation; and weather can lead to this problem.


The weight from snow and ice can bend or break tree branches bringing them close enough to power lines to cause an arc.  


A voltage surge on a power line from a nearby lightning strike can cause a tree to become “electrified” as well.

Also, during warm weather or when power lines are carrying heavy electrical loads, electric lines can heat up and stretch, making them sag.  Electric lines can sag as much as 15 or 20 feet, bringing them closer to trees.


The electric current caused by arcing between electric lines and trees can easily injure or even kill an individual caught nearby. It is important to pay attention to electric lines in your neighborhood. Protect yourself and others by following these safety rules:


Treat all electric lines as energized and never go near a downed line.  If you see a downed or low-hanging line, immediately call HFRECC and try to keep others from going near it.


Maintain a safe distance (at least 10 feet) from electric lines.


Always survey the area for electric lines before you begin to cut down any tree or trim branches.


Never go near a tree that has fallen onto an electric line.  Do not go near a tree if its limb has fallen onto an electric line.


Never plant trees or shrubs directly under electric lines.  Plant medium-sized trees, those that grow no taller than 40 feet, at least 40 feet away and those that will grow taller at least 50 feet away.