Backyard electrical contact incidents up during pandemic
A new BC Hydro report finds a concerning trend – electrical contact incidents involving ‘backyard loggers’ are up 30% since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The report titled “Trimming trouble: Pandemic leads to more ‘backyard logging’ close calls with electricity in B.C.” finds there has been a significant increase in contact incidents involving British Columbians trimming trees, gardening and working in their yards over the past year. Since March of last year, there have been more than 100 incidents – this is up 80% from 2013 as many are spending more time at home.
Safety experts at BC Hydro are concerned that the numbers only tell part of the story. Most electrical contact incidents go unreported, even though contacting a power line or other electrical equipment can result in serious injury or death. Power lines found in British Columbians’ yards can carry anywhere from 12,000 to 25,000 volts of electricity.
The increase in contact incidents can be attributed to the fact more than three quarters of British Columbians are unaware of the basic vital safety rules for performing work in their yards near electrical equipment.
For example, while nearly a quarter of British Columbians have contacted or have had a close call with power lines or electrical equipment at some point, just 23% know that people and any tools being used, including ladders, need to be at least three metres away from power lines when pruning trees or doing other work in and around their homes.
Electricity can be dangerous, and BC Hydro is urging the public to make safety around power lines a priority, especially as the weather heats up and British Columbians spend more time outdoors in their yards because of the pandemic. British Columbians should keep in mind the following while working in their yards:
- Follow safe distance rules that focus on a minimum of three metres of clearance from persons, equipment and all parts of a tree. Anyone who cannot do their own pruning or is unsure how to do it safely is urged by BC Hydro to contact a certified utility arborist to prune trees.
- Call 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) if any part of a tree or hedge is within three metres of a power line.
- Click or call before you dig: If planting, plan carefully and remember to always click or call BC1 Call before digging to locate any underground electrical or other infrastructure. Make a request online at bc1c.caor call 1-800 474 6886.
BC Hydro works year-round to educate the public, trades workers and first responders on how to stay safe around electricity. BC Hydro is increasing awareness of electrical safety rules through its annual Electrical Safety Week in schools from May 10–16.
It is BC Hydro’s chance to deliver the potentially life-saving message of electrical safety through online resources to students across B.C.
For more information on how to stay safe around electricity, visit bchydro.com/safety.