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When you think about your neighborhood, you probably don’t think about its power lines. It’s easy to overlook their presence, but power lines can pose serious electrical hazards if forgotten.
Trees can be a power line’s worst enemy. Strong winds and storms can blow trees over or break branches, pulling down power lines from poles or supporting towers. It is possible for the line to remain energized and potentially electrify the tree and nearby objects—especially when wet.
Arcing or flashovers between power lines and trees also can cause damage and danger. A voltage surge on a power line from a nearby lightning strike can cause a tree to become electrified as well.
During warm weather or when power lines carry heavy electrical loads, they can heat up and stretch, making the lines longer. Thus, power lines can sag as much as 15 or 20 feet, bringing them even closer to trees.
The electric current caused by arcing or flashovers between power lines and trees easily can injure or even kill an individual caught nearby. It is important to pay attention to power lines in your neighborhood. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Always make sure to look for power lines nearby before you begin to cut down any tree or trim branches. If a tree falls into a power line, do not attempt to move it. Contact your electric cooperative immediately.
Treat all power lines as energized. Never climb or attempt to handle a tree that has a limb caught in a power line. There may not be any visible evidence that the tree is electrified or dangerous but that doesn’t mean it’s not.
Make sure to maintain required clearances between equipment and power lines. Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet away from power lines at all times.