Look Up! Message for Campers & Caravanners

9 May 2007

Look Up! Message for Campers & Caravanners

Caravanners and campers across the UK are being urged to be aware of how to stay safe when outdoors, especially around overhead power lines.

Overhead power lines are essential to the UK’s power grid and supply electricity to all towns, cities, villages and hamlets. Built mainly through fields to avoid contact with the public, they are in close proximity to caravanners and campers. At this time of year many holidaymakers, Scouts and Guides will be away exploring the countryside but may not be aware of all its dangers.

Power lines are easily confused with telephone lines and can carry voltages from 230 up to 400,000. Even touching a 230 volt line can be fatal and even the lowest voltage lines can produce 10,000 times the amount of current needed to kill a person. Examples of items that can cause accidents are TV aerials, metal or carbon fibre tent poles, guy lines or fishing rods.

Even if power lines have come detached in the wind, they are still unsafe and may even be transferring electricity to the surrounding ground. The Energy Networks Association has compiled a range of leaflets to warn people that enjoy outdoor pursuits such as camping and fishing about the dangers they face but might not be aware of, due to the number of accidents that occur throughout the country in relation to the national grid.

Energy Networks Association head of Safety, Health & Environment, Peter Coyle, said ‘Overhead electric power lines are often difficult to see, particularly at night and against a dark or very bright background. They are normally bare (not insulated) and can be mistaken for telephone wires, with disastrous consequences.

"Currently the higher voltage lines normally have yellow ‘Danger of Death’ warning notices fitted to the poles or towers but lower voltage lines may not be marked. At higher voltages electricity may jump short distances through the air. This means it is not necessary to touch an overhead electric power line to suffer an electric shock and burns which could result in death.

"Detailed advice is available at the Energy Networks Association website, at www.energynetworks.org and, for landowners and outdoor pursuits organisers, from local electricity companies."