Losing power from a fallen tree or from tree branches wiping out your power lines can be a frustrating experience. However, for safety purposes, this should never be something that you attempt to clear on your own. Here’s what you as a homeowner can do when this happens.
One of the more deadly hazards that is less often talked about can be found right in your front yard. Trees planted too close to power lines are responsible for a large amount of outages, whether that is due to the branches stretching high enough to make contact with the power line or the risk of the tree knocking over the power line during a storm or a period of excess wind. Especially if the tree is overgrown and covering a large stretch of the power line, it can be hard to see and determine it as a risk.
According to Hydro One, trees account for over 30% of all power outages in Ontario. Even if the tree is on private property, utility companies may be permitted by law to cut down or trim any trees to ensure that they do not pose a risk. Nearby residents are also permitted to report trees that look as if they are interfering with power lines or posing a safety hazard to their local utility company.
Hazardous conditions can be defined by something as seemingly benign (but still very dangerous) as a tree leaning against a hydro pole or hanging over power lines, or signalled as a more immediate threat by something such as trees or branches sparking, smoking, or burning on a power line.
No matter the severity of the issue, trees/branches touching or knocking over power lines should never be touched by the average person and should always be handled by a professional. This can be a utility company for public spaces or a licensed electrical contractor for private properties.
Who is responsible for a power outage caused by a fallen tree?
This issue largely depends on the location of the power line. Depending on its location, the power outage could either be the responsibility of the utility company or the owner to take care of.
Utility companies usually do vegetation management on road allowances, with power lines running along public roads. These power lines are not situated on any private property and provide electrical service to multiple customers.
Privately-owned power lines are situated along a homeowner’s property. These power lines do not supply power to other customers and allow electrical service to only your home and other buildings on your property. Maintenance of trees, tree trimming, and tree brush removal are the responsibility of the homeowner. It’s usually recommended (and very important for safety reasons) to hire a qualified contractor to do vegetation management work on private property.
Why shouldn’t I remove or cut the tree myself if it’s a hazard?
One of the main reasons that a qualified contractor should be hired is for safety reasons. Homeowners should never attempt to remove a tree that is touching or has knocked down a power line on their own, as it can cause serious injury or even death.
Electricity tends to take the path of least resistance to return to the ground. Using tools such as ladders or metal shears close to a power line runs the risk of causing the electrical current to run through the tool. This can be incredibly dangerous, particularly if the tree is wet. Qualified contractors have specialized equipment and are trained to have knowledge of professional vegetation management and electrical protocols.
Clearances between trees and power lines are also required to adhere to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code as prescribed by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), which licensed electricians are required to have extensive knowledge of. Not only will the job be done safely and according to the law, but you as a homeowner will be provided guidance throughout this stressful process.
Do you need a tree trimmed or removed to reduce the risk of a power outage? Has a tree knocked over a power line in your neighbourhood and caused you to lose power?
Contact MADE ELECTRIC today! We are a trusted electrical contractor that operates in Toronto and the GTA, with a professional and fully licensed team. Power outages can be frustrating to deal with, and when the issue is as visible as it is on your front yard, it may be difficult to know where to start with clean-up and power restoration. We are able to help with both in a timely and efficient manner.
Our company can be reached at any time through our contact page, and are also happy to receive your calls at +1 (833) 623-3247, or e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org.