Vegetation Growth Creates Electric Safety Concerns

April 21, 2005

April 21, 2005

ROSEMEAD, Calif., April 21, 2005—The record rainfall this year has caused plants and trees to flourish and will keep Southern Californians busy indefinitely.  While cutting, trimming, and removing trees, Southern California Edison reminds and encourages everyone to always be mindful of electrical safety.

“We’re urging everyone to be extra careful when they’re trimming trees,” said Jack Sahl, SCE’s director of environmental, health and safety, “especially trees near power lines, which should be trimmed only by licensed, qualified arborists.  Power lines carry thousands of volts of electricity, enough to kill or seriously injure someone or cause severe property damage.”

“Everyone should be aware of the potential danger when power lines are near a house or tree,” said Sahl.  “Know where the power lines are at all times and take care working around them.”

Sahl warned that the rains have caused some trees to grow more quickly than usual and that once-visible power lines with adequate clearances could now be hidden by a dense tree canopy.  Check to see where power lines are before you begin any work on trees, Sahl said.

“Please call us if you know of a tree touching a power line,” said Sahl.  “We’ll come out as quickly as possible and trim it back to a safe clearance.” 

Call SCE at 1-800-655-4555 with questions about safe working clearances or to have power shut off in areas where safe clearances are not possible.

In addition to arborists, agricultural and grove workers, and landscapers typically working near trees, SCE also is issuing cautions to anyone likely to be near energized wires or cables such as crane operators, painters, roofers, electricians, cable installers, heavy-construction workers, excavators, general-construction workers, and public-works employees.

Anyone working near overhead power lines or underground cables—trenching, digging, drilling, grading, excavating—should:

  • Assume all overhead lines are energized and dangerous.
  • Never come in contact with a power line, directly or with any tool, or any part of a tree that is touching a power line.
  • Never trim a tree that has a power line going through the canopy.
  • Never cut a tree branch that could fall into power lines.
  • Never use metallic tools or ladders when working near any power line.
  • Never allow children to climb or play in any tree located near a power line.
  • Always use care when you trim trees, and always be careful when moving machinery, tools or scaffolding near power lines.
  • Always make a site survey for potential electrical hazards before beginning work, noting the placement of any overhead wires.
  • Always use a safety “spotter” when moving overhead equipment.
  • Use Underground Service Alert of Southern California—Dig Alert—to determine the placement of underground electrical cables.  Call 1-800-227-2600.  Give at least two day’s notice before digging.  Once identified, respect the identifying marks.

“Keep in mind that the ground is still saturated,” Sahl said.  “Some trees have compromised root foundations and could be blown onto power lines with even a mild wind condition.”

More information on safety is available at www.sce.com.

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An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.6 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.