Every year in Canada more than 1,000 contacts are made with energized high voltage power lines and equipment. Each contact has the potential to place first responders at risk of serious injury or even death.
Flooding and Electricity
Heavy rains or sudden thawing of snow often cause flooding in lowland areas, homes and basements. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity; even a thin layer of water can conduct electricity very well.
Safety measures to keep in mind include:
- Never step into a flooded basement or other room if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances or cords.
- Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you can't reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
- Never use electric appliances or touch electric wires, switches or fuses when you're wet or when you're standing in water.
- Keep electric tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from wet surfaces. Do not use electric yard tools if it's raining or the ground is wet.
- If an electrical appliance has been in contact with water, have a professional check it out before it is used. It may need to be repaired or replaced.
- Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and/or electrical shock injuries.
Downed Power Lines
Downed power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death. The following tips can help you stay safe around downed lines:
- If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything touching it. The human body is a very good conductor of electricity. The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for an electric shock.
- If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and then electrocute you. Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.
- If you are in your car and it is in contact with the downed line, stay in your car. Honk your horn for help and tell others to stay away from your vehicle. If you must leave your car because it's on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with the live car and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the car to the earth. Shuffle away from the car. Do not drive over downed lines. Secure the area, call 911 and the local electric utility to report the downed power line.
Take special care with portable electric generators. If the generator is to be installed directly into household wiring, it must be done by a qualified Electrician.
Substations are no place to play around. They contain high voltage electrical lines and equipment that could seriously injure or kill you. Every, year, there are unfortunate stories from around North America of individuals that didn't take substations seriously.
Safety measures to keep in mind include:
1.Never climb a substation fence.
2.Always fly your kite, balloons or model airplanes away from power lines and substations.
3.Never throw anything into a substation such as rocks or sticks.
4.Always obey the signs "Danger-Keep Out" or "Warning-High Voltage".
5.Don't play near or in electrical substations.
6.If you see a wire on the ground always stay as far away as possible. You don't necessarily have to be touching a wire to be electrocuted!
7.Do respect electrical utility equipment.
Substation safety has become more serious than ever before because of the increase in theft of equipment. Often, this stolen equipment was being used in making a substation safer and once it is gone, electricity can become less predictable.
Stay clear of substations!
Working Near Power Lines
Working outside in your yard and around your property is one of the joys of owning a home. The following are some tips to make sure your outdoor work is safe from the risk of an electrical accident.
- If you're carrying a ladder, building material or operating equipment that could come in contact with power lines, ensure you're putting enough distance between the equipment and the line. At least 3 metres (~10 feet).
- Maintain a safe distance if you are pruning or cutting trees. Ensure the branch or tree can't touch or fall on a line.
- Install antennas well away from power lines.
- If a tree falls onto a line, stay at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from the tree. Stay well away from other equipment that comes in contact with a line.
- If you find a downed line in contact with the ground or a piece of equipment, maintain a minimum clearance of 10 metres (33 feet) from the equipment, tree or downed line.
- Remember, the minimum safe distance from overhead lines varies because different types of lines carry different amounts of electricity.
To keep safe, maintain these minimum safe distances: