BC Hydro reports increase in people being shocked by overhead power lines while doing yard work

A shocking situation

BC Hydro is concerned about a shocking situation that has increased during the pandemic.

A new report from the power company has found electrical contact incidents involving 'backyard loggers' are up 30 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

The report found people trimming trees, gardening and working in their yards over the past year are accidentally coming in contact with overhead power lines.

Since March 2020, there have been more than 100 incidents as many people are spending more time at home.

Safety experts at BC Hydro are concerned the numbers only tell part of the story.

Most electrical contact incidents go unreported. Contacting a power line or other electrical equipment can result in serious injury or death.

Power lines can carry anywhere from 12,000 to 25,000 volts of electricity.

According to Hydro, the increase in incidents can be attributed to the fact more than three quarters of British Columbians are unaware of the basic vital safety rules for performing work in their yards near electrical equipment.

Nearly a quarter of British Columbians have contacted, or have had a close call with power lines or electrical equipment at some point, just 23 per cent know any tools being used, including ladders, need to be at least three metres away from power lines.

BC Hydro is urging the public to make safety around power lines a priority, especially as the weather heats up and British Columbians spend more time outdoors in their yards because of the pandemic. British Columbians should keep in mind the following while working in their yard:

  • Follow safe distance rules that focus on a minimum of three metres of clearance from persons, equipment and all parts of a tree. Anyone who cannot do their own pruning or is unsure how to do it safely is urged by BC Hydro to contact a certified utility arborist to prune trees
  • Call 1 800 BCHYDRO (1-800-224-9376) if any part of a tree or hedge is within three metres of a power line.
  • Click or call before you dig: If planting, plan carefully and remember to always click or call BC1Call before digging to locate any underground electrical or other infrastructure. Make a request online at bc1c.ca or call 604-257-1940, and 1-800-474-6886 outside the Lower Mainland.

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