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Overhead Power Lines

To report downed electrical wires, children playing near power lines and other emergency situations, please call 9-1-1.

Overhead power lines transmit much of Guelph's electricity. These lines can carry up to 13,800 volts of electricity - 100 times more than the voltage used in homes, so it's important that you take extra care around these lines. Always look up and look out for overhead power lines.

 Why Don't Birds Get Electrocuted?

Why don't birds get an electric shock when they land on overhead power lines? Birds don't get an electric shock when they land on wires because they don't represent a path to ground. Electricity wants nothing more than to go to ground and will always do so by the easiest, most direct route. A bird on a wire doesn't give electricity anywhere to go but back to the wire - easier for the current to stay right where it is in the wire and continue on its way.
  • Keep people, pets, and equipment well away from overhead power lines, and never climb electrical utility poles or towers.
  • If you are working near overhead power lines, maintain a safe distance of three meters or more away from them. If you need to be closer, contact Guelph Hydro for more information on safe limits of approach. Getting less than three meters from a power line can cause an arc flash, which is a short circuit through air that flashes over from an energized conductor to another conductor, such as from a power line to a person, producing intense heat and light. If a person gets too close to a power line that is energized - even without actually touching the power line - an arc of electricity can form in the air connecting the two and cause very serious burns. Arcs heat the air around them to up to four times the surface temperature of the sun. Serious burns are not uncommon even three metres from an electric arc.
  • If you are working with equipment around power lines, know the size of your equipment and ensure that you are positioned well away from power lines. Depending on the location, power lines, including guy wires, can be as low as 3.7 metres from the ground.
  • Plant trees away from power lines and make sure any trees you plant won't grow up into power lines. If you have a tree that has grown into power lines, call Guelph Hydro - don't attempt to prune trees around power lines yourself.
  • When piling dirt, gravel, construction or renovation materials, ensure the piles are located away from power lines to prevent children climbing too close to overhead lines.
  • Electricity travels at 299,338 kilometres per second and can flow through water. Spraying a power line could have the same effect as grabbing the line with your bare hand.
  • Teach children to keep kites and other flying toys away from overhead lines. In the event a kite or flying toy becomes entangled in electrical wires, do not attempt to untangle.

For information about what to do around downed power lines, please click here visit the Downed Electrical Line section of our website.

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