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Watch out for power lines when pruning trees

April 3, 2019 -- Successfully tackling an outdoor cleanup project on your own can be gratifying. But West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation warns do-it-yourselfers who attempt to trim or cut trees near overhead electrical wires to be aware of the potential danger they face and the possibility of damaging power lines and causing outages.

Terrible accidents can happen when a homeowner uses pole-mounted cutting tools and/or a chainsaw to trim their trees and shrubs. An energized overhead wire can be hidden from view and, if touched by pruning tools, can cause serious injury or even death.

Tree limbs can conduct electricity. When trees grow near overhead electrical wires, the limbs may touch the wires and actually become energized, filled with dangerous electrical voltage that can injure anyone who touches the tree.
It can also be difficult for do-it-yourselfers to project how and where the limbs or trees they cut will fall, creating hazards for anything below, including power lines.

West Kentucky RECC Operations Manager Michael Evans said his line crews have come across several outages this year where lines were damaged during tree cutting. “Obviously these outages are inconvenient for the homeowners who find themselves without power, but the greater concern is the potential risks these homeowners are taking in working with trees near power lines,” Evans explained.

Here are some reminders for homeowners thinking about trimming or cutting trees on their property:

  • Look for power lines before pruning trees and large shrubs. If lines are anywhere near the tree, don’t attempt any tree work. Professional tree climbers have the training and equipment needed to perform these tasks safely.
  • Never climb a tree in order to prune it. Even if the wires aren’t currently touching the tree, remember that the trees branches will shift once you begin climbing or removing limbs.
  • Never extend long-handled saws or pruners into a tree without checking for power lines. Electricity is always trying to go somewhere, and it will easily travel through metal, water, trees, and/or the ground.
  • Don’t move ladders or long-handled pruning tools around the yard without first looking up. Always read and heed ladder-use safety labels.
  • Don’t trust inadequate protective equipment‒rubber-soled shoes or rubber gloves will NOT protect from a fatal shock.
  • Avoid problems with trees near power lines by never planting trees below or near power lines. Make sure you know how tall the tree will be when it is grown and plant accordingly.

If you have questions, call West Kentucky RECC customer service at 1-877-495-7322.