Electrical safety is a necessary component of our day-to-day lives. Whether at home, at work, or on the go, electricity is present and should be taken into consideration. We’ve discussed many different safety concerns, from flickering lights to pet-proofing your home. This week we ask you to turn your attention outwards and upwards: to power lines. These massive pieces of equipment can carry hundreds of thousands of volts and hundreds of amps depending on their use and position in the electrical grid.
Overhead Power Lines
Running through Calgary and surrounding areas, there are over 8,000 kilometres of power lines. Because of this, they are seemingly unavoidable. Being aware of their locations is key to the safety of your workers, your family, and yourself. Touching a line is obviously dangerous, but did you know that even being too close could cause electrocution as well? In the right conditions, the current flowing through a power line could jump from the line to another conductor. If you’ve ever held an electrical plug just beyond the socket and seen the tiny flash as the electricity arcs between them, it’s the same concept. Conductors don’t necessarily have to be touching for electricity to travel between them. To be safe, stay at least 7 metres away from an overhead power line.
Underground Power Lines
Power lines aren’t always hoisted up in the air, sometimes they are buried underground. The danger here is that homeowners and workers have no visual cue to tell if they are getting close to a cable. Even tasks like installing an in-ground pool or re-grading your backyard will require reaching out to your local utility provider and performing safe digging practices. Underground cable locators, also known as locates, will reveal where buried power lines and other cables have been placed. This is an absolutely necessary first step to any project where the ground will need to be dug up.
Downed Power Lines
Power lines should run above or below ground, but never laying directly on top of it. If you see a downed power line, follow these steps:
- Stay at least 10 meters away, even if it doesn’t look live. Downed lines may still be carrying electricity.
- Call 911 immediately and give the operator your exact location.
If a line falls onto your vehicle for any reason such as an accident or as the result of a storm, do not get out of your car unless absolutely necessary. Call for help. If you must exit your vehicle, jump out and land on both feet. Be careful not to touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time, as that will create a pathway for the electricity to get to the ground. Shuffle along the ground, keeping both feet together as much as possible, until you are at least 10 meters away.
Power lines are great transportation for the electricity we use to power our lives. Working and living around them requires knowing where they are, keeping our distance, and communicating any problems to the authorities immediately. In this way, we can keep our communities safe and our electricity flowing. For more safety tips, be sure to check out our other articles or contact us directly with any questions you may have!