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Heads Up!

When it comes to safety around high voltage power lines, Brad Adcock has two words of advice: Look up.

Brad, the director of safety and training at Walton EMC, is on a mission to communicate this message to anyone working near the lines that deliver co-op electricity to consumer-owners’ homes and businesses.

“Doing just this one thing — looking up — could prevent so many accidents involving power lines,” he said.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates there are approximately 400 high-voltage electrical fatalities in the U.S. each year. These injuries occur mostly in occupational settings and are the fourth-leading cause of workplace-related traumatic death.

There are also at least 30,000 non-fatal electrical shock incidents per year, a few of which involve exposure to high voltage electricity. High voltage shock victims typically experience serious burns, heart damage and cellular damage that can contribute to a lifetime of health problems.

Whether it’s on the job or at home, observe these guidelines to stay safe around power lines:

  • Keep yourself and equipment at least 10 feet away from power lines in all directions, at all times.
  • Assume all power lines are energized. You can’t tell if a wire is “live” simply by observation.
  • Don’t raise any equipment, such as ladders, poles or rods, into power lines. Non-metallic materials, such as lumber, tree limbs, tires and ropes will conduct electricity.
  • Carry ladders and other pieces of equipment horizontally.
  • Follow the 1:4 rule: For every 4 feet between the ground and the peak of the ladder, set the ladder feet out 1 foot.
  • Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. If power lines near your property have sagged over time, call Walton EMC to repair them.
  • Never touch or go near a person or equipment that is in contact with an overhead power line.
  • If you are on equipment that contacts a power line, do not exit the equipment. When you step off the equipment, you become the electricity’s path to the ground and receive a potentially fatal shock. Wait until utility workers have de-energized the line and confirmed it is safe for you to exit the vehicle. If the vehicle is on fire and you must exit, jump clear of the vehicle with both feet together.

If your work takes you outdoors, remember Brad Adcock’s words of advice — look up — to prevent contact with an overhead electrical line.