Dangerous activities near power lines

Power lines are part of our environment. So it can be easy to forget they’re there and to forget the most basic safety rule: don’t let anything get anywhere near power lines. Be especially aware of the danger when working at heights and using long or tall equipment.

What you should always do BEFORE climbing a ladder or using other long or tall equipment (poles, etc.)

  1. 1Look for power lines nearby.
  2. 2Keep everyone and everything at least 3 m away from a medium-voltage line.
  3. 3Also be sure that nothing touches the low-voltage lines (including the lines connected to the service entrance of your home). Even though they’re insulated, the sheathing may be cracked and therefore inadequate.

Pruning or cutting down a tree
Climbing a tree

Pruning or cutting down a tree can be dangerous. There’s a real risk of falling or being hurt by a falling branch. If the tree is near a power line, it’s even more dangerous.

Building a treehouse

All children dream of a treehouse. But before building one, make sure there are no power lines nearby. And when your children are playing in trees, remind them not to go near power lines or place anything near them.

Using a ladder

Ladders are used to work at heights. Working on a ladder is already dangerous, and even more so near power lines. Be careful when carrying or moving a ladder, because it could easily touch power lines outside your field of vision.

Delivering materials with a crane or cherry-picker

Whether you’re a professional or helping out a friend, you’re putting your life in danger if you use a crane or cherry-picker near power lines. The very first thing you need to do before delivering materials at height is to check whether there are any power lines nearby.

Working on scaffolding or a cherry-picker

Scaffolding and cherry-pickers are for working at heights and handling all sorts of materials and tools. An eavestrough, for instance, may easily get too close to the lines if it’s windy or you make a wrong move.

Working on a roof

Working on a roof means working at height! And there’s an added risk of slipping if you go up to clear ice or snow. If you’re handling long materials or using long-handled tools, it’s even riskier.

Cleaning out eavestroughs

To clean out eavestroughs, you need to use a long pole or go up a ladder. If there are any power lines nearby, there’s a risk that you may get too close.

Skimming a pool

If your pool meets the clearance standards for the various types of lines, the risk of accident while using a long-handled skimmer is much lower. But it’s still important, before you use one, to know the safety rules.

If you buy a long-handled skimmer, opt for a fibreglass rather than aluminum one. Fibreglass provides better insulation than aluminum, which is a good conductor of electricity.

Putting up holiday decorations or a Christmas tree

A Christmas tree outside a house always looks beautiful. But remember that the taller it is, the greater the risk of touching a power line.

Be sure the extension cords you need for outdoor holiday lights are designed for outdoor use and are in good condition.

Piling up snow

Power lines are often found on the edges of schoolyards. It’s important to pile up cleared snow a good distance away from the lines. As soon as kids see a big pile of snow, they want to slide down it, and they could get too close to the lines.

Playing on a huge snow pile

Kids love sliding down huge piles of snow in the winter time. But sometimes the snow pile is near or even directly underneath power lines, and they could get too close to the lines.

Playing with water blasters

Water blasters have huge tanks so they can shoot a continuous stream over a distance of several metres. When the spray hits a line, it’s just as if the hands holding the water blaster touched it directly. It’s extremely dangerous.

Flying a kite or drone

A kite could easily get tangled up in power lines and the string you’re holding can easily conduct electricity. There’s a risk of serious electric shock.

Don’t steer a drone anywhere near power lines. If your drone happens to land behind the fence of a Hydro-Québec substation, don’t try to get it yourself. You’d be risking your life.

Approaching a downed power line

There’s a high risk that the line is live, and the nearby ground electrified, as well. Never use anything to try to move a line. Even a tree branch can conduct electrical current.

To report a downed power line, call 911.

What to do if a car hits a utility pole

When a vehicle hits a utility pole, a line can break or fall down. You may not even see the power line. There’s a high risk of severe electric shock.