What Is a Safe Distance From High Tension Electrical Wires?

Written by david robinson
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What Is a Safe Distance From High Tension Electrical Wires?
High tension wires are routed well away from other objects. (Electricity Pylon image by mexpix from Fotolia.com)

Every year people are injured or killed after getting too close to high-tension power wires. There is no such thing as a definitive "safe distance" from a power line, but there are some basic guidelines to follow.

Why Is High Tension Voltage Dangerous?

High-tension electricity can electrocute you, stopping your heart and lungs and destroying your nervous system and brain. It can burn, causing severe internal injuries as it passes through your body. You don't have to touch a wire to be in danger; being too close can kill you.

Why Stay Away?

High-tension electricity can arc across air gaps. Power can flow through the ground from fallen wires. Fog, smoke, precipitation and wet soil can increase the distance electricity flows. This makes power lines even more dangerous.

Safe Distance

The New York State Department of Transportation defines "dangerous proximity" to high-voltage wires as being within 3m of a wire carrying up to 50,000 volts. They advise adding 0.1m for every 10,000 volts above 50,000 volts. Transmission wires can carry 500,000 volts. Stay at least 9.5m away from them.

Don't Calculate, Play Safe

Power companies advise you not to calculate the safe distance. They recommend staying well away at all times. Bonneville Power Administration recommends that you never raise yourself or an object more than of 14 feet from the ground when you are under power lines. Western Area Power Administration states a minimum of 15 feet.

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