Power Lines

SMECO wants you to stay safe around power lines.

Overhead Lines:

Electricity always tries to find the easiest path to ground. Don’t ever become the easiest path to ground.

  • Flying a kite? If it contacts an overhead power line, the kite string and you become the easiest path to ground.
  • Launching a sailboat? If the mast contacts an overhead power line, the sailboat and anything touching the sailboat can become the easiest path to ground.
  • Using farm equipment? If it contacts an overhead power line, that equipment and anything it touches can become the easiest path to ground.
  • If a tree is in contact with an overhead power line and you attempt to remove the tree from the line, you can become the easiest path to ground.

The results for each of these cases could be deadly. Don’t ever become the easiest path to ground.

Myth: Overhead power lines don’t carry enough power to hurt you.
Reality: Overhead power lines carry high voltages, enough to kill. If your body or your equipment touches a power source, the electricity will attempt to travel through you to the ground. The current can heat up and burn the body tissue inside a person.

Myth: Overhead power lines are mostly insulated.
Reality: Overhead lines only have a coating to protect them from weathering. If you or your equipment comes into contact with them, the results could be deadly.

Underground Lines:

Call 811 at least 48 hours (two business days) before excavating.  That means anytime you dig and every time you dig—no matter how small your project is.  All local utilities will mark their underground service lines:  electric, cable TV, phone, water, sewer, and gas.  Hand dig within 18 inches on both sides of the marks.

On the Job:

When you’re working, make safety a top priority.

Keep your distance and keep vehicles and equipment away from overhead lines.

  • Dump trucks, cranes, drill rigs, backhoes, forklifts, and aerial lifts.
  • Construction equipment: long-handled tools, ladders, and scaffolding.
  • Building and renovation equipment: roofing, painting, siding, and sheet metal tools.
  • Farm equipment: tractors, augers, and irrigation pipe.
  • Marina and boatyard equipment.

If you plan to work near a power line, use a spotter and warning flags. You may call SMECO about installing protective barriers on overhead lines.  However, you must always maintain the appropriate clearances from power lines.

In Emergencies:

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and strike a utility pole, overhead power lines may fall to the ground causing a potentially fatal scenario.  These techniques must be followed to stay safe in this scenario.

  1. When possible, you should stay inside the vehicle. If no fire or immediate threat exists, the best action is to remain inside the vehicle until the equipment is confirmed de-energized by a qualified SMECO employee.
  2. If you must leave due to fire or other immediate threat, try to position yourself on a flat surface of the vehicle (top of hood, trunk, or bed of the vehicle) which allows you to leap from the vehicle as far as possible. It is important that you try to land with both feet on the ground without stumbling. Once you get your balance, shuffle your feet (without lifting them from the surface) until you are at least 30 feet from the vehicle. Once you get 30 feet away, remain away from the vehicle and do not go back under any circumstances until the vehicle and equipment are deemed de-energized by a qualified SMECO employee.
Posting signs or other items on utility poles is illegal and unsafe

Keep Utility Poles Clear:

Posting signs or attaching items to utility poles is against the law (Annotated Code of Maryland, § 6-303) and poses a safety hazard for SMECO linemen who climb the poles for maintenance or repairs.

Shown are three safety violations:

  • a support beam attached to a SMECO utility pole
  • a sign on a SMECO pole
  • metal wire fencing attached to a SMECO pole

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