Power Line Peril

3 October 2007

Power Line Peril

The public are being urged to think about the dangers that overhead power lines pose.

Overhead power lines are essential to the UK’s power grid and supply electricity to all towns, cities, villages and hamlets. Many sections of the public will find themselves near to power lines at some time, whether sailing enthusiasts, farmers, campers or even ramblers.

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.

ENA 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.

ENA head of safety, health and 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 (www.energynetworks.org) and, for landowners and outdoor pursuits organisers, from local electricity companies."