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Front Page » May 16, 2002 » Local News » Simple home and yard improvements may prove to be dangero...
Published 4,890 days ago

Simple home and yard improvements may prove to be dangerous when working near power lines

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Home improvements often begin in the spring. Power companies are urging residents to use caution near power lines when working outdoors. Utah Power is also asking residents to be selective when planting trees which may cause havoc with power lines in years to come.

Spring has sprung, and homeowners are out and about doing seasonal cleaning and fix-ups on their homes and yards. But sometimes the springtime zeal can put people in danger if they're not paying close attention to their surroundings.

"The weather during spring is just right for spending time on your home and yard," stated Gary LeMoine, Utah Power's corporate safety director. "We want to remind people that it's also the right time to take some extra precautions when tackling outdoor projects."

Utah Power makes it part of its mission to raise awareness about potential electrical safety hazards. Company representatives work with everyone from schoolchildren to contractors to police and firemen to teach safety basics and explain the importance of staying away from power lines. The power company tells people that power lines are dangerous and can kill if contacted. The company explains that electricity will take the shortest path to ground, traveling through tools, equipment or people to get there.

"The best way to stay safe is to be alert and aware," LeMoine said. "People should keep safety in mind as part of the task at hand. Power lines are put on top of poles and buried underground to help keep our customers away from danger, so plan your work to stay as far away from these as possible."

Utah Power offers the following safety tips on common home and garden projects.

•When painting house or trim, note where power lines connect to the house and keep ladders, scaffolding and other equipment away.

•If moving, adjusting or installing an antenna or satellite dish, keep well away from electrical wires.

•Note the location of overhead electrical wires both while working and when moving equipment when installing, removing, cleaning or repairing gutters.

•If using electrical tools while mowing, trimming or edging, do so only in dry weather after inspecting the cords and any extension cords. Also make sure to not allow the electrical cords to lay in water. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) available from most hardware stores. Also, be sure to wear eye and hearing protection while working with and around electrical tools.

•Check for nearby electrical wires when pruning trees. If lines run through or near a tree, don't attempt to cut. Instead, call Utah Power at 1-888-221-7070.

•Be sure to plant flowers, shrubs, trees or bushes away from meters, power poles, switching cabinets and boxed transformers on the ground. Aside from roots damaging underground cables, eventual growth can block the view of the meter for reading or make access for repairs or maintenance difficult and dangerous for utility workers.

•If building a fence or digging a hole for planting, call a utility locator service before digging to be sure not to hit underground power, gas, water, cable or telecommunications lines.

•If unsure of the local number for, call Utah Power at 1-888-221-7070. Contacting underground electric cables can be just as dangerous as contacting overhead lines.

•If planting trees near overhead lines, choose species that grow no higher than 25 feet at maturity. Utah Power has a free small trees for small places booklet. Call 1-888-221-7070 to order this guide.

To order free Utah Power safety education materials, call 1-800-791-6093 or visit

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