Number of downed power lines increasing

Number of downed power lines increasing

Most British Columbians do not know how to avoid the dangers of a downed power line

A recent survey commissioned by BC Hydro found that most British Columbians do not know what to do if they encounter a downed power line.

This is of particular concern because a new report released by BC Hydro last month found that storms are increasing in severity and frequency in B.C. As a result, the number of downed power lines has also increased by nearly 65 per cent in the past five years.

According to BC Hydro, one-third of B.C. residents have encountered a down or damaged power line but many are not aware they could be putting themselves and others at serious risk.

Nearly 60 per cent do not know to report a downed or damaged power line to 9-1-1. Thirty-five per cent incorrectly think a live power line makes a buzzing sound, sparks or smokes or are simply unsure how to tell if a wire is live. And about 25 per cent do not know how far to stay away from a downed or damaged power line.

BC Hydro crews responded to around 6,100 reports of downed or damaged power lines in 2013. That number increased to nearly 10,000 in 2017. The chances of encountering a downed line are much higher in the fall and winter months as strong wind, heavy rain and snow cause trees and branches to knock down electrical infrastructure.

BC Hydro wants to remind the public that if they come across a downed or damaged power line, they should stay back at least 10 metres (33 feet), about the length of a city bus.

Dial 9-1-1 and let the dispatcher know a power line has fallen or is damaged and keep others in the vicinity at least a bus-length away until BC Hydro crews and first responders arrive on the scene to make the area safe.

For more tips on how to stay safe during storm season, visit

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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