Electrical Safety

Overhead Lines

MEA is committed to the safety of both our members and the employees of our Cooperative. We urge anyone working in the vicinity of power lines to use the utmost caution to avoid  injuries, save lives, and prevent power outages and property damage. Coming into contact with a power line is extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. Here are some precautions that you can take to stay safe.

Look Up!

If you are working in the vicinity of overhead power lines, always look up first and take precautions to steer clear. It only takes one accidental contact to create a serious and potentially deadly situation.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1992 and 2005 at least 154 workers were killed by electrocution when a metal ladder came into contact with overhead power lines.
  • Assume all overhead power lines are energized; do not use a ladder near them.
  • Look up for power lines when using tools or equipment of any kind. Even nonmetallic tools and objects can conduct electricity.
  • Look up for power lines when putting up scaffolding, framing a building, painting or trimming trees.
  • Trees can conduct electricity. Before touching a tree near a power line, look up and determine the overhead clearance from the top of the tree. Keep a safe distance away as required by OSHA.
Stay Away!
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that equipment be kept at least 10 feet away from power lines with voltages up to 50kV. For lines with voltages higher than 50kV, the required distance is even greater. When uncertain of a power line’s voltage, stay a minimum of 20 feet away for voltages up to 350 kV and 50 feet away for voltages greater than 350kV. Cranes are required to take additional steps before beginning work (see OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1926.1400).
Stay Calm!
If the vehicle or equipment you are operating contacts a power line
You should:
If you are safe and not in danger from a fire or contacting a power line
  • Stay in your vehicle
  • If possible, drive the vehicle or equipment to a safe distance away from the power line.
  • Warn others not to approach the equipment.
  • If you are unable to drive away, stay put and call 911 (inform them your equipment or vehicle is in contact with a power line)
If your vehicle or equipment is disabled and you are in danger
  • Jump as far away from the equipment as you can and land with both feet together. (No part of your body should touch the equipment and the ground at the same time.)
  • Hope or shuffle away from the equipment with your feet together to reduce the risk of electric shock
  • Once clear, do not return to the equipment until MEA arrives and declares it safe.
  • Call 911!
If someone else is in danger
  • Stay away.
  • Warn other to stay away.
  • Call 911!
Proper Landscaping
Proper landscaping near electric and other utility rights-of-way helps prevent power outages and allows maintenance and repair crews to access the corridors and equipment safely and efficiently. Learn more about proper landscaping.
Keep Controlled Fires Away
Burn barrels, fire pits and other controlled flames need to be at least 50 feet away from underground or overhead utility corridors.
Do Not Put Signs On Power Poles
Hanging signs on power poles greatly increases the risk of serious injury to MEA linemen. Linemen wear protective clothing, including special gloves, to prevent electrical shock. Protruding nails, heavy staples, hooks or fence wire can tear their equipment, thereby increasing their chance of electrocution. When linemen climb poles, they wear special boots and climbing gaffs. If these gaffs hit metal they could be deflected and cause a fall, which could result in a serious injury to the worker.

Electric poles are the property of MEA, and maintenance crews have been instructed to remove signs or other nonessentials from the poles.

Downed Lines

If you see a downed power line, call MEA immediately to report it:
  • Mat-Su Valley: call 746-POWR (746-7697)
  • Eagle River: call 696-POWR (696-7697)

Be ready to give MEA a good decription of your location, the situation and whether or not you have already called 911.

What do I do if I see a downed power line?
  • Always consider all electrical equipment, lines and conductors to be energized.
  • If you notice a downed line or damaged electrical equipment, contact MEA immediately.
  • Stay away and warn others about the line until MEA arrives.
  • Remember that circuits do not always turn off when a power line falls into a tree or onto the ground. Even if they are not sparking or humming, fallen power lines can kill you if you touch them or even the ground nearby.
  • Downed power lines can energize other objects. Never touch an object that is in contact with a downed power line.
  • Distance is your friend.
  • Never guess, stay away!
What if a power line is touching my car and I’m inside?

If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed power line

  • Stay calm and stay inside your car.
  • If you have a mobile device, call 911 for help.
  • If a passersby is trying to help, roll down your window and warn them not to come near the vehicle.
What if it isn’t safe to stay in my vehicle?

If you have to exit a vehicle (i.e. It’s on fire) that has come in contact with downed power lines

  • Try to jump clear of the vehicle, landing with both feet together.
  • Keep your feet together and shuffle or “bunny hop” as far away from the car as you can.

The video below offers valuable information on what do in the event a vehicle comes into contact with a power pole.

Underground Lines

Do I Really Need to Call?

YES!  Don’t make a judgment call; make a phone call to 811.  Don’t make a risky assumption about whether or not you should get your utility lines marked. Every digging job requires a call – even “small” projects like planting trees and shrubs.

How it Works
  • Call 811 a few days prior to digging.
  • You’ll give the operator information about how to contact you, where you are planning to dig and what type of work you will be doing. Your quick conversation with the operator will last a few minutes.
  • All utility companies who have potential facilities in the area of your dig site will be notified about your intent to dig.
  • Each affected utility will send a locator to mark the approximate location of your underground utility lines.  This typically occurs within 2-3 working days.
No items found.