Outdoor Electrical Safety
Electricity travels from outside your home.
These tips will help you pay attention to your
surroundings when working or playing outdoors.
- Before beginning any work or play activity,
conduct a thorough survey that identifies any power
lines, utility poles, guy wires, service drops and
other power-related equipment. Use a spotter when
operating heavy equipment.
- Establish a clearance boundary around power
lines before any type activity begins.
- Call Dig Safe (1-888-DIG-SAFE) for all underground
work. It's the law. If you do not call and you hit
an underground line, you could be hurt or killed.
You may also be held liable for damages.
Work or Play: Beware
- Beware of anything metal around wires. Keep in
mind you don't actually have to touch the wire to get
into trouble. Electricity can "leap" to a conductor
like a ladder if brought close to an energized wire,
so always keep yourself and metal objects at least 10
feet away from power lines.
- When using an aluminum ladder, check above you for
power lines. Aluminum is an exceptionally good conductor
of electricity. If you touch a power line with an aluminum
ladder, you could be seriously injured or killed.
- Remember: Tree limbs can conduct electricity as they
contain water. Electricity can pass through a branch that
is touching a line, shocking the victim sufficient to
cause injury, a fall from the tree or death.
- Kids should be warned not climb trees or build tree
houses in trees with lines nearby.
- Leave tree trimming to a professional. But, if you
are pruning trees with a long-handled pruning instrument,
especially a metal one, check above you to avoid touching
a power line or any limbs that are growing into power
- Never attempt to move an object (tree limb, kite,
model airplane, etc.) from a power line yourself. Never
climb the pole.
- Grounded three-pronged extension cords are recommended
for outdoor work. Periodically examine extension cords
for breaks or damaged insulation. Replace if defective.
Ground Fault Interrupters, or GFIs, are a good investment
for all outdoor circuits.
Landscaping Dos and Don'ts
- Avoid planting tall-growing trees under power lines.
The little tree being planted today could eventually grow
into the lines, creating a safety hazard for your children
and our maintenance crews who climb it. In addition, the
limbs could break off, becoming entangled in the power
lines, causing serious problems.
- Trees, shrubs or vines that are too close to poles
may need to be trimmed so utility workers can get access
to the poles. Keeping clear access to utility electric
equipment gives line crews the room to perform inspections
and repairs – and keeps everyone safe.
- Ask your nursery how tall your baby tree will grow
once it has matured. If it is expected to grow under
30 feet at maturity, it can be planted near or under
overhead utility lines. If it is expected to grow between
30 feet and 50 feet at maturity, it needs to be planted
at least 30 feet from the roadside wires. If it is
expected to grow more than 50 feet at maturity, it
should be planted at least 50 feet from the wires.
Landscaping this way ensures sagging and falling branches
will not disrupt electric service.
- Find out how sprawling the tree’s branches will
be at maturity. A tree planted 30 feet away from an
electric line can still interfere with the wire if the
- Although it is tempting to landscape around ground
mounted utility equipment, avoid doing so. During an
outage, WMECo crews may need to access to the equipment
serving a homeowner’s house.
- Keep shrubs and structures at least 12 feet
from the “door” of a pad-mount transformer and at
least three feet from other sides.
- Landscaping too close to the transformer restricts
air circulation, which can cause equipment failure and
can delay the completion of your restoration work. In
addition, electrical workers need space to open the
transformer safely when working on underground power
- Don’t plant anything within three feet of an
electric meter. The device should be accessible to
meter readers. Also, please do not fence in the meter.
- Again, always call Dig Safe at (888) DIG-SAFE
(344-7233) before you begin any groundwork.