Power Line Safety

The dangers of contacting powerlines or electrical equipment can be instant and lethal. Respect electricity by exercising precautions and always ask yourself "Where's the line?"

You don't have to touch a buried or overhead powerline to be electrocuted. Always stay seven meters safe.

Electricity always seeks the easiest path to ground (the earth). When the human body becomes that path, injury or death may occur. Awareness and appropriate action can prevent electrical injuries.

Watch "What to do if you contact a power line"

For more information about electrical safety, visit Where's The Line? or watch this 20-minute video produced by the Canadian Electricity Association.

Stay at least 10 meters from a downed power line or any other damaged electrical facility.

For assistance retrieving items tangled in power lines or accidentally thrown into a substation area, contact us.

And always, call or click before you dig.

Power line safety resources

Be cautious around power lines, always assume anything touching electrical equipment or lines is energized – don’t become a victim yourself.

Safety tips

Call before you dig

Look, Locate, Live. Learn the location of the lines supplying your work area or yard in just a few clicks. Submit your line locate request.

Note: the City doesn't locate privately owned lines, such as the line from your house to your garage or the line from the transformer to a commercial property.

Substations

In Medicine Hat, substations are an important part of the electricity supply system and can contain voltages as high as 138,000 volts. 

Observe all danger and warning signs and do not enter any fenced or gated areas surrounding electrical facilities. Do not throw anything inside the fence.

Electrical equipment

Electrical boxes can be pink, grey, green, beige or even stainless steel. They are located in the Utility Right-Of-Way (UROW) in underground service areas (found in yards or back alleys). These boxes vary in size and ensure that you will always have power in your home.

You may not find the boxes to be aesthetically pleasing, but it is important that you do not hide them with trees or shrubs because our electrical crews needs to access them. Please maintain clearance of these boxes on your property and keep shrubs and structures 12 feet (3.75 metres) away from the front and 3 feet (1m) away from other sides. If trees or shrubs grow too close and the box is no longer accessible, the landscaping will need to be removed.

There is hazardous voltage inside the green boxes. You might get shocked, burned or worse if you tamper with them. If you find a box that is open or unlocked, please call us and report the location to our electric department. We'll dispatch a crew to safely close or repair the box.

Keep a distance
  • Teach children to stay away and to never play around power substations, poles, towers, fences and trees near power lines or electrical equipment.
  • Stay out of substations and areas marked “Keep Out” or “Danger”.
  • Never fly kites near overhead power lines.
  • Make sure swimming pools and hot tubs are situated well away from power lines.
  • Do not plant trees where they will grow into power lines.
  • Install antennas at a distance at least equal to the height of the antenna plus three meters.
  • Never try to open or poke sticks or other objects into underground boxes.
  • Never spray water at power lines.
  • Rubber gloves or boots WILL NOT protect you from the voltages carried by power lines.
  • Wood CAN conduct electricity.
  • Avoid going outdoors during a lightning storm.
Safety at home

On any given day, you use several electrical appliances. Electric appliances are so common in modern homes that it's easy to forget about the very real risks and hazards associated with their use. Take the time to brush up on the principles of safe operation - and make sure that everyone in your home is aware of them - in order to prevent unnecessary exposure to hazards and safety risks.

  • Hire a qualified electrician to perform electrical work in your home.
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters where required. They sense electrical trouble and turn off your electricity before injury can occur.
  • If a fuse blows, turn off all appliances and lights on the circuit before changing the fuse.
  • Replace blown fuses with the correct rating. Do not use a coin or metal object.
  • Do not overload electrical wall outlets.
  • Do not remove or bypass the third prong (ground) on a plug. It is designed to divert electrical current in case of a short-circuit toward the earth where it will dissipate. Use an extension cord that is properly rated for the load and only use it temporarily.
  • Do not use worn extension cords as they may cause shocks and fires.
  • Water and electricity do not mix – ensure appliances, electrical cords, etc., do not get wet.
  • Unplug appliances, power tools, etc., before moving, cleaning, repairing or when not using them.
  • Ensure seasonal lighting is connected to a ground fault circuit interrupter.
  • Not sure whether you have an underground electrical service? Request a line locate before you dig, trench or till on your property.
Power outage tips

Severe weather and storms are the leading cause of power outages. Follow these tips should you experience power outage:

  • Reduce your load, turn off all tools, appliances and electronic equipment, and turn the thermostat(s) for the home heating system down.
  • Turn off all lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and restoration crews working outside know that power has been restored.
  • Don't open your freezer or fridge unless it is absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
  • Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors or in garages. They give off carbon monoxide. Because you can't smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.
  • Use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended and keep out of reach of children. Always extinguish candles before going to bed.
  • Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector. If it is hard-wired to the house's electrical supply, ensure it has a battery-powered back-up.
  • Protect sensitive electrical appliances such as TVs, computer, and DVD players with a surge-protecting power bar.
  • Take extra care in planning an evacuation route when considering children, senior citizens, family members with disabilities, and pets. Decide on two places to meet up: one outside your home and one outside your neighborhood.
  • Have an emergency contact who lives outside of your area.
  • Make sure schools and daycares have your emergency contact details.
  • Have an emergency kit (based on Red Cross Survival Kit)
    • Water: one gallon per person per day for two weeks
    • Food: non-perishable and easy to prepare items
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Candles and appropriate holders
    • First aid kit and medications
    • Personal hygiene products
    • Power packs/portable/solar cell phone chargers
    • Emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Multi-purpose tool
    • Emergency blanket
    • Maps of the area
    • Battery powered fans
    • Books, board games, puzzles, etc.

For more information on electrical safety, visit Where's The Line?

Disclaimer

The City of Medicine Hat provides the information found on these pages for informational purposes only. The user or viewer of the information assumes all risk for the use of this site.