Safety is on the Line

Electricity is always seeking to ground itself and typically goes unnoticed until the moment contact with an electrified object is made, allowing the body to create the easiest path.

Contact with any power line can be deadly. Always pay close attention to your surroundings when working near power lines to avoid contact.

The PUD has established a minimum 10’ safety buffer on all sides of utility lines and equipment. This zone, known as the “minimum approach distance”, covers the area a high voltage power line could potentially arc.

50 volts of electricity can be deadly to humans. Distribution lines (those found atop utility poles county wide) are often energized with 7,200 volts. Power leading to the home typically being reduced to 240 or 120 volts for use.

10 feet is a minimum distance to power lines established by the PUD, but dangers can extend beyond. It’s important to remember that electricity easily flows unseen through an object in contact with a line, traveling the path of least resistance.

For example, a tree touching power lines can energize the tree itself. A fallen tree branch contacting the lines can transfer power to anyone who touches it. A downed power line touching a vehicle can energize the entire car. A ladder meeting a line can cause electrocution.

Homeowners are cautioned against tree trimming near power lines. Professional tree trimming services certified to work within the energized power buffer are to be used and are recommended even beyond the safety buffer when there is a potential for power line contact.

A tree trimmer in a bucket truck cuts branches away from power lines. The worker is working within the power buffer.
Working within the power buffer requires special certification for tree trimmers. Here, a contracted tree trimmer removes branches that could cause a potential outage.

If your planned work may potentially enter the minimum approach distance, please call the PUD to determine safe access. If any object contacts the power line (cut tree branch, mylar balloon, fallen ladder, etc.), stay away! Keep yourself and anyone else at least 50 feet from the area and call the PUD customer service line at (360) 385-5800.

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