Trees and power lines often coexist without problems. However, there are precautions to take when planting a tree.
Not only do dangers lurk for the person planting the tree, nearby power lines and trees can be harmed as well. Trees growing too close to electrical lines are the primary cause of momentary short circuits and flickering lights. When it storms, tree limbs that are too close to power lines can knock the lines out completely and create a greater threat to your safety.
Overhead utility lines are the easiest to see and probably the ones we take for granted most. Although these lines look harmless enough, they are extremely dangerous.
Meanwhile, underground utility lines can be buried very close to the ground’s surface. That’s why it’s so important to call before you dig.
“Before you start planting, we encourage you to call your local 811 call center at least a few working days, but no less than two full working days, before you start planting,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Never assume the utility lines are buried deeper than you plan to dig.”
Once you know where to plant to avoid underground utilities, find out where the prime planting spots away from overhead utility lines are. If you are planting a small tree that will grow no larger than 25 feet tall, planting it 25 feet away from power lines is a safe distance. If the tree is 25-40 feet tall, plant it 40 feet away from power lines. The bigger the tree, the farther it should be. So, if the tree is expected to grow more than 40 feet high, it should be planted 60 feet away from utility lines.
Keeping trees away from these utility lines not only keeps you safe, it keeps the trees safe as well. Trees planted too close to underground lines can suffer root damage. Trees planted too close to overhead lines need regular pruning.
Tipmont REMC's goal is to provide reliable electric service. You can help by following these few simple guidelines when managing the trees on your property. Being aware of these dangers and how to avoid them can keep you, your home and the trees safe.
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Rob Ford is Tipmont and Wintek's communication director, a role he's held since 2015.
Rob has a bachelor's and a master's in Communication from Purdue University. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and three children and has a life-sized Yoda statue in his office. Away from the office, you’ll find Rob working on his golf swing, jump shot, or hope for a Purdue basketball national title – all futile endeavors.