How a Tree on a Power-Line is More Dangerous Than You Think

By: albertaarb - January 17, 2017

High-voltage power lines can go up to half a million volts. That’s enough to shock you to death 200,000 times over. And while you probably know not to touch a power-line directly, a tree on a power-line can be just as lethal—not just to you, but to your family and neighbors too.

Electricity always seeks a path to the ground. That means if a grounded object touches a live power-line, the object will become energized with the electric current. Fortunately for us, most power-lines are high up in the sky, where nothing connected to the ground can reach them.

The exception to this is of course, trees. Trees are everywhere, and as they grow, they can grow towards a power-line. If a tree touches a power-line, then the entire area can become a minefield—liable to blow at the slightest trigger. Read on to understand just how dangerous a tree on a power-line can be, and what you can do to protect yourself.

It’s not just the tree, but the whole area

A tree touching a power-line becomes part of the circuit and can shock anyone who comes into contact with it. But it’s not just the tree—the surrounding ground can also become energized. The closer you are to the base of the tree, the stronger the shock you’ll get. Depending on the power-line, you can be electrocuted by a tree’s base up to over 30 meters away.

Trees can grow unexpectedly towards a power-line

Trees are living, growing things. Your backyard tree might have been safe for years, but as soon as one branch makes its way to a power-line, then the entire area becomes a death zone.

As a general rule of thumb, you should plant your tree at least its maximum height away from a power-line. For example, a tall tree like a willow should be planted at least 15m away from a power-line.

Don’t risk your life—get help

A tree on or near a power-line is no joke. You should be very careful when working with trees on a power-line: identifying all possible risks and potential dangers. If you’re ever unsure—don’t risk your life or well-being. Get help from a trained and certified professional.

At Alberta Arborists, we have helped countless people get rid of trees safely and efficiently, and we can help you, too. Our highly experienced arborists are trained to deal with any tree removal in any location and can ensure no damage is done to your property.

Click here to contact us or call the number at the top of the page for a free, no-obligation estimate of your job.


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