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Electricity basics: Part II

Electricity basics: Part II


Part II

We continue our segment on Electricity:

The Basics with Part II of our four part series.

With only a couple weeks to go until summer, this section focuses on a few of the assumptions we make when doing work outside the house. Power lines don’t need to be in directly in front of us to pose a risk. All they need is access to a pathway that gets itself to the ground, and that pathway can form itself before, during and even after your work is done. Here’s some tips for your household (and outside it), to ensure you are as safe as possible:

As long as my ladder isn’t metal, it’s safe to rest on the power line

You may recall in Part 1 of this series we mentioned that metal isn’t the only conductor of electricity? Metal is an excellentconductor and so metal ladders are a natural hazard around overhead power lines, but then again so is water. No matter what the ladder is made of, if it’s wet or can get wet, it can create an electrical hazard. Also, most ladders contain metal in some form so it’s best practice to keep all ladders away from overhead power lines.

As long as my ladder isn’t touching the line, I’m safe

Not necessarily. This depends on how close the ladder is to the line. You’ve seen it before, perhaps on the news, in movies or YouTube: electricity can move when a potential conductor like a metal ladder comes within certain proximity. Be safe and keep at least three to four metres from power lines.

I’m just trimming my tree limbs; in fact, to keep them clear of the power lines. I won’t be using a ladder so I don’t need to worry.

Water comes in all shapes and forms, including moisture and dampness. The moisture in the tree can trigger an electrical shock if any part of that tree is touching or even near a power line. Remember, it’s the pathway, and by trimming tree limbs near your power lines, the electricity has one: power line > tree > you > ground. Electricity can find ways to the ground that haven’t crossed your mind yet, so please don’t find out the hard way! You may not live to tell the story.

I’m just digging a couple inches into the ground.

I really don’t need to worry about the lines

How long ago were those lines laid? How has the ground shifted in that time? Is it possible you might accidentally push your shovel deeper than you intended? Err on the side of caution – call your energy provider to make sure.