Q: What hazards are associated with transmission lines?

A: Overhead transmission lines often carry 345,000 volts of electricity. Direct exposure to this is capable of electric shock, burns, fires, and explosions.  


Q: What should I know to avoid transmission line hazards?

A: Initially, it is best to understand some basics about electricity:

  • The flow of electricity through materials varies based on the materials resistance to the flow of current. Materials such as metals and water offer little resistance to the flow and are called “conductors”. Substances that slow or stop the flow are called “insulators”, examples of these include glass, plastic, rubber, porcelain, and dry wood. A person’s body is capable of being a good conductor.
  • Electricity travels in a path that seeks a ground or earth. A person’s body can mistakenly become part of the path if it comes in contact with electrified parts, causing electrical shock.  

The following special care should be taken around transmission lines:

  • Touching Power Lines – Do not get close to or touch power lines yourself or with equipment. Even touching the equipment that contacts a line could be tragically harmful.
  • Children and Power Lines – Never let children fly kites or motorized airplanes near power lines. While kites almost always use cotton string, wet cotton string can conduct electricity almost as well as metal string. If a kite gets stuck in a tree, check first to make sure no power lines are nearby before retrieving it.
  • Trees and Shrubs – When planting trees or shrubs that will grow tall, make sure they will not grow up into nearby power lines. If you have a tree growing into a power line, please contact us immediately, and we will then assess the need to trim or cut the tree. We strongly urge you to consult a professional tree-trimming service.
  • Downed Power Lines – Never touch downed power lines or use any object to move lines, including brooms, boards, limbs, or plastic materials. Although wood is non-conductive, if even slightly wet it will conduct electricity, causing electric shock or electrocution. Power lines can also slide down such objects when lifted. Only qualified electric utility workers should attempt to move downed power lines.
  • Downed Wire on a Vehicle – Stay in your vehicle and wait for help. Tell others to keep away or they could be electrocuted. If you must get out because of fire or other danger, jump clear of the vehicle without touching it and the ground at the same time.  


Q: What should I know to avoid substation hazards?

A: Substations contain high-voltage equipment which can cause severe or fatal injuries. These areas are potentially more hazardous than transmission lines because the electrified equipment is at ground level. Therefore, you should never enter the fenced area surrounding a substation. If there is any reason you would need to retrieve something from inside the fenced area of a substation contact the WETT hotline posted on the signs at the substation.