Powerline Safety Myths & Facts

Download ESA Myths & Facts

MYTH:  Birds land on wires so they must be safe to touch.
FACT:  Birds don’t get electrocuted because they don’t create a path to the ground.

MYTH:  All powerlines are insulated, so they are safe to touch.
FACT:   The vast majority of overhead powerlines aren’t insulated. You could receive a severe shock, burn or even be killed if you touch or even come too close to one.

MYTH:  As long as my ladder isn’t metal it can rest on the powerline.
FACT:   No matter what the ladder is made of it represents a potential hazard. Be safe keep all ladders away from overhead powerlines.

MYTH:  I’m just trimming tree limbs, I won’t be using a ladder so I don’t need to worry.
FACT:   Anything that touches a powerline – a pruning tool, the tree limb or your hand can give you a shock, burn or kill you. Better idea: call an arborist or your local electric utility and have one of their trained arborists trim the tree for you safely.

MYTH:  I’m just digging a couple of feet into the ground. I don’t need to worry about underground lines.
FACT:  The lines may be closer than you think or may have shifted over time. Better to be safe than sorry. Call before you dig -- it's the law! Call Ontario One Call to get a cable locate.

MYTH:  I can plant shrubs or do landscaping to hide that mysterious green box on the lawn.
FACT:  That green box contains electrical equipment installed by your utility to deliver electricity to your home from the high voltage lines near your neighbourhood. If the box looks like it has been damaged or tampered with, call your local electric utility right away. Also, remind kids that there are better places to play than around electrical equipment.

MYTH:  If a powerline falls on my car, I should get out and run to safety right away.
FACT:  The car and the ground around it may be electrified and you could be killed if you get out of the vehicle. Stay inside until the utility workers tell you it’s safe to get out. Tell everyone to stay back 10 metres or 33 feet.

MYTH:  To get a shock or burn, I need to actually touch a powerline.
FACT:  Just getting too close could cause you to receive a severe shock, burn or even kill you. Electricity can jump or ‘arc’ through the air to you or an object that gets too close. Always stay at least three metres or 10 feet away from powerlines.

MYTH:  If I’m wearing rubber boots or safety boots I won’t get a shock.
FACT:  Even safety boots rated for electrical work don’t necessarily provide 100 per cent protection from shock. Normal wear and tear or even lots of dirt can compromise their ability to protect you. Always avoid contacting or coming too close to powerlines.

MYTH:  I can use a wooden stick to prop up a powerline or to knock down a toy that’s tangled in a powerline.
FACT:  Even wood can conduct electricity. Never touch or come close to a powerline. Contact your local utility if you need assistance.

MYTH:  A powerline that’s been knocked down doesn’t have electricity flowing through it, so it’s safe to be near it or move it out of the way.
FACT:  Always assume a downed powerline still has electricity flowing through it, even if it isn’t sparking. Stay back at least 10 metres or 33 feet (that’s about the length of a school bus).