While power lines are instrumental in delivering electricity to the homes of you and your neighbors, there is always a chance that things can go wrong. The sheer amount of voltage carried by these lines is enough that accidentally contacting a power line can be dangerous or even deadly. Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative wants to share safety information to help our members stay safe around power lines.
Whether you are playing outdoors with your children or working on landscaping projects, keep a safe distance from power lines and other equipment your co-op uses to get electricity to your home.
Safety Around Residential Power Lines
Stay away from power lines, meters, transformers, and electrical boxes.
Do not climb trees near power lines.
Never fly kits, remote control airplanes, or balloons near power lines.
If you get something stuck in a power line, call us at 973-875-5101 so we can address the issue.
Keep a safe distance from overhead power lines when working with ladders or installing objects such as antennas.
Keep children and pets away.
Avoid planting trees on your property within 25 feet of our power lines. It's best to adhere to our Tree Planting Guidelines to help us insure no tree limbs make contact with our power lines, which can cause potential outages especially during bad weather.
Do NOT take it upon yourself to trim tree limbs near power lines. Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative employs expert tree trimmers that are trained to do the work efficiently and safely.
- Any utility wire, including telephone or cable lines, which are sagging or down could be in contact with an energized power line. It's best to stay away from all power lines to avoid any potential danger.
As noted above, residential trees coming in contact with power lines can impact the safety of our members. Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative prioritizes keeping tree limbs reasonably trimmed and promoting our tree planting guidelines to prevent any potential fires, electrical hazards, or outages and blinks caused by trees. For more details on our guidelines and process for protecting our lines from contact with trees, please visit our Tree Management page.
Safety Around Downed Power Lines
If you come across a downed power line on the street, you should NEVER touch or even approach the wire. Even if the wire is not sparking, an electrical current is likely to still be running through it. Getting to close to the wire can put you at risk of electrocution.
Downed power lines can energize the ground up to 35 feet around them. Because of this, you should also avoid making contact with anything that may be touching the downed wire, such as a car or nearby chain link fences. Electricity can travel through these objects and injure or even kill you.
In this situation, what you should do is call us at 973-875-5101 (from Monday-Friday, 8:00-4:30) or 877-504-6463 (for 24/7 emergency service). Make sure no one else approaches the area while you wait for our workers to arrive on scene.
The video below shows how a downed power line can energize nearby objects. In this video, its electricity causes a metal swing set and chain link fence to spark and heat up. Remember, objects DO NOT have to be sparking to be energized. The first responders shown in the video are actually TOO close to the fence and were at risk of being shocked through the rebar in the concrete sidewalk. If you are ever near a downed wire, your best option is to get as far away as possible!
Power Line Hazards and Cars
Never drive over a downed power line, it can cause poles or other equipment to come crashing down.
If a power line falls on a car, you should stay inside the vehicle. This is the safest place to stay. Warn people not to touch the car or the line. Call or ask someone to call the local cooperative and emergency services.
The only circumstance in which you should consider leaving a car that is in contact with a downed power line is if the vehicle catches on fire. Open the door. Do not step out of the car. You may receive a shock. Instead, jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Once you clear the car, shuffle at least 50 feet away, with both feet on the ground.
As in all power line related emergencies, call for help immediately by dialing 911 or call your electric utility company's Service Center/Dispatch Office.
Do not try to help someone else from the car while you are standing on the ground.