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You’ve had an eye on the perfect spot for your getaway cabin. The view—well, it’s breathtaking! But if you try to build your dream home too close to a power line, you may not live long enough to enjoy it.
Electric co-ops have found new homes where the roof came within 8 feet of an existing power line, or where a swimming pool or barn was built beneath a line. When you think about hauling in materials and working in those areas and folks using the pool or getting too close to the roof, it’s pretty scary.
Whether you’re a contractor or a do-it-yourselfer, always use caution when working near power lines. Never get closer than 10 feet to an overhead line.
Electricity flows through metal, wood, water and many other conductive materials, including human beings—all in an effort to reach the ground. Small birds can sit on power lines unhurt because they don’t create a path to the ground. But you and your ladder do.
A line doesn’t have to be touched to spark danger—electricity can jump, or arc, from a power line to a person or equipment that gets too close. When equipment comes into contact with power lines, it becomes energized and dangerous.
If an object, such as a scaffold, must be moved near overhead power lines, have someone specifically watching to make sure a minimum 10-foot clearance is maintained between the power lines and the object.
If your vehicle comes into contact with an overhead power line, don’t leave the vehicle. As long as you stay inside and avoid touching outside metal, you should avoid an electrical hazard. Warn others to stay away and call for help. If you need to exit the vehicle to summon help or because of fire, jump out without touching any wires or the exterior of the vehicle, keep your feet together and hop to safety.
Overhead power lines are not insulated. Touching a power line or an object in contact with one can result in serious injury—even death. Please contact your electric cooperative if you need to work near power lines so that they can help you stay safe.