The biggest danger outside is accidental contact with overhead electric conductors. To stay safe, pay attention to:
- Where lines are
- What you’re doing that might provide a path for electricity to travel through you to the ground
- Electricity is always seeking a path to the ground, through a conductor. Common conductors outdoors are:
- Trees and tree branches (they’re water-rich)
- Metal equipment such as ladders, chainsaws, trimmers, and gutters
- Other materials you might not expect to conduct, such as wood or concrete
- Humans and animals (we’re water-rich, too)
- Conductors don’t actually have to touch a wire to cause trouble, so always keep yourself and your equipment at least 20 feet away from power lines. It’s not only safe, it’s also the law.
Bottom line? If it’s near a power line, don’t touch it.
During a Storm
- If you see any downed utility line, stay far back and call PGE: 503-464-7777 or 800-544-1795.
- A downed line doesn’t have to spark to be dangerous. It can be dangerous even if you’re not touching it: Water, metal, tree branches, concrete or other materials touching the wire can conduct electricity to you.
- If you have a backup generator, please review our tips for using generators safely – your well-being, and the lives of our crews, depend on it.
- If a wire falls on your car, stay in the vehicle until help arrives and power is shut off. You’re safe inside; the tires act as an insulator. If you try to get out and you touch the ground and electrified car at the same time, you’ll complete the circuit to ground and you could be electrocuted.
- If you have to get out of the vehicle due to a fire, jump clear of the car with both feet together, and make sure you don’t touch the car when you touch the ground. Then, keeping your feet together at all times, shuffle or hop far away from the vehicle and power line.
- If you are served through overhead wires, they enter your home through a “weatherhead,” a mast that holds the wire before it goes into your electric meter. In extreme storms, these masts are sometimes damaged or torn down. You own the weatherhead. PGE cannot repair weatherheads but we can help put you in contact with qualified electricians who can help you. See our list of PGE-certified electrical contractors.
A common cause of power-related accidents is tree trimming or tree falling. Common-sense steps can prevent accidents.
Look up! If you see a wire in the work area, don’t take chances.
Call the PGE Tree Hotline at 800-544-1794 to assess your circumstances.
- Tree pruning can be dangerous. We recommend you contact a qualified arborist who is specially trained to do the job correctly and safely.
- Remember: Electricity can pass through a branch near or touching a line and shock someone, causing injury and a fall from the tree.
- Always look up when moving ladders. Keep them and other equipment at least 10 feet away from utility lines or trees that are near lines.
Warn kids to stay away from trees that are near power lines.
- Always call 811 before you dig to have underground utilities marked. It helps prevent dangerous, costly accidents, and it’s the law.
- Beware of anything metal around wires. Watch out for aluminum ladders, tree-trimming equipment, metal antennas, gutters and metal irrigation pipe.
- Only use heavy-duty, grounded, three-pronged extension cords rated for outdoor use. Periodically examine extension cords for breaks or damaged insulation. Discard and replace if defective.
- Never alter or make temporary repairs to a cord.
- Keep electrical equipment away from pools, fountains and standing water.
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, or GFCIs, are a good investment for all outdoor outlets to help protect you from serious injury.
- Never attempt to open or tamper with PGE equipment such as wires, meters or underground transformers.