Trees and power lines coexist around the world. However, some tree branches bend over, coming closer to power lines. Tree branches that touch or are near power lines can be hazardous. These branches can easily fall on power lines and cause damage due to strong winds. When they do, who is responsible for them?
The electric utility companies are the ones who are responsible for trimming the trees that touch or are about to touch a power line. They do so in compliance with the National Electricity Safety Code, which states all their duties. They are responsible for cutting the branches every six to twelve months, depending on the type of trees and branches.
However, if a tree is touching the service line connected to your house, you will be responsible for managing the tree. Thus, landowners are responsible for maintaining the trees on their property, including trimming trees from the nearby power lines. Let’s delve into further detail about trees falling on power lines.
What Should You Do If You Notice A Tree Near/On A Power line?
If you come across a tree that touches a power line or if it is about to, the first thing to do is maintain your distance. You must also warn others to steer clear of the power line. This is because the trees can conduct electricity. If the branches are already touching the power lines, it’s entirely possible for them to be “energized.”
However, since it is difficult to differentiate between an electrified tree and a non-electrified tree, other people might be at serious risk from the danger that this brings about.
It is also best to contact a certified professional to trim or cut the entire tree if you observe that it is too close to the power line. This precautionary measure is beneficial because it ensures you and the people around you avoid potential danger.
Cutting down trees and trimming them is known as pruning, sometimes called clearance. When tree branches are at risk of collapsing due to snow and wind, pruning should always be such that it alters the growth direction of branches away from the wires. This is usually known as directional pruning, the most recommended method for trimming nearby trees.
This involves the removal of some parts and the reduction of others. However, this is not a long-term solution. As soon as the tree has enough access to sunlight, the branch will continue growing to its original position, and the process will need to be repeated.
What To Do If A Tree Falls On Your Power Lines
With the increasing number of storms, it is essential to know what to do if a tree falls on your power lines. This is because storms are often accompanied, preceded, and even succeeded by strong winds that can damage a tree or make it fall onto power lines.
We’ve listed some key elements that can help you prepare if a tree falls over your power lines.
Know Where Power Lines Are Located
Among the primary ways to be prepared for an upcoming storm is to know where the power lines are on your property. Live lines that run over your garden and are connected inside your house can go as far as killing anyone who comes near them if they have fallen over.
Additionally, these power lines are not insulated. You must be sure to stay away from these lines. Any contact with them, the trees, or the earth can severely injure or kill you. Consequently, it is necessary to inspect your property at least twice a year to ensure that trees in your property are not growing too close to the power lines.
Report Storm Outages
If there are any power shortages during a storm, call your electric utility company to report the outage. Consequently, if a tree has fallen over your house, you must immediately account for all the residents and their safety. You may then proceed by calling 911 so that necessary help for the injured can be provided quickly.
Also, fallen trees that have become entangled in power lines can be hazardous. This is because they pose electrocution and a fire hazard. By calling the relevant authorities, you will know what procedures to follow until help arrives.
Report Visible Lines Down
If a more prolonged power outage lasts longer than the storm, you must remain inside your house. Following this, you can look at your garden through your windows to gauge whether there are any fallen trees or branches.
You must again call 911 and the electric utility company to report potential lines being down.
Having reported the lines being down, you must remain cautious and not attempt to remove the fallen trees yourself.
Do Not Remove Fallen Trees Yourself
Fallen trees are highly unsafe. This is because they might have become entangled in power lines. This may result in sparking that can easily ignite a fire. Adding to that, if live wires are entangled in the branches, they can even transmit the electric charge to the ground below.
Therefore, touching a fallen tree or attempting to remove it from power lines can prove to be very dangerous. Hundreds of people are injured yearly, and many are killed due to electrocution. This occurs when they attempt to remove or trim trees close to the power lines without the help of any trained personnel.
Furthermore, danger still exists even when a branch is not in direct contact with a power line but is close to it. This is because electricity from power can arc to a tree if it is very nearby. Although this does not happen too often, it is still highly unsafe. An example is lightning, where a voltage jump may lead to arcing of electricity.
As seen from the information above, if you see a tree fall on power lines, you must immediately contact the electric utility services. You must be careful not to touch the trees, as that can be very dangerous.