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Keeping Safe Outside

Always be aware of what is up above - and down below

Always be aware of what is up above – and down below

Electricity can be lethal anywhere around your house and property, particularly when there are damp conditions or where there is a chance that you may accidentally cut through wires or cables, for example, if you’re digging a trench or trimming trees.

An RCD (residual current device) or isolating transformer can help protect you when you are working with electricity and we recommend the use of a RCD at all times when working with electricity outdoors.

Connect the RCD as close as possible to the power point. If something goes wrong it can trip the power in less than 30 milliseconds – that’s about a thirteenth of the time taken for a single heartbeat and usually fast enough to prevent injury.

If you are using an extension cord make sure that you plug the portable RCD in at the wall socket to ensure you protect the extension lead as well as the power tools.

Following is advice about how you can keep yourself safe when working around electricity outdoors.

For more information on using electricity safely, visit the Energy Safety Service’s website at

Boating Safety Close to Power Lines

Boating is a popular activity in Southland and Otago.

Make sure that you know the height of your aerials and masts above land when towing, and above water when sailing.

Check any land routes, launching and sailing areas for power lines or warning signs that describe where power lines or cables may be present.

Take action to avoid higher parts of your boat intruding into an unsafe distance from overhead lines and always heed the information on signs where these are displayed.

Remember, high voltage electricity can jump to your mast or aerial if they get near enough to a power line which can result in serious burns or death for you or those nearby.

If a boat mast has brought down the power lines around a car, the safest way to avoid electric shock is for occupants to stay in the car until help arrives.

They should only try to get away from the car if another urgent matter, such as a fire in the car, forces them to evacuate.

Overhead lines and underground cables

Look up and watch out for overhead lines
When you are thinking of painting or water blasting outside your home, be extra careful working around power lines. Always look up before extending ladders, boat masts, poles or pipes or when using any equipment such as kites, fishing rods, farm machinery etc that could come into contact with overhead power lines. Even before installing something simple like a TV antenna, check for clearance of power lines. If you don’t check you could hit overhead power lines, causing serious injury and even death.

You must keep yourself and any objects you are handling at least four metres away from overhead power lines. If you are unsure about safe clearances click on this safe distances link or call PowerNet System Control on 0800 808 587. Plan your work and arrange to have the power disconnected, if necessary. Click on this link to find out how to arrange for a temporary disconnection of your power.

Keeping children safe
We suggest that parents teach their children to keep well away from power lines and from trees growing close to power lines. Children should also be able to recognise the normal electrical warning notices and know to keep away.

Underground cables – check before you dig
Watch out for what’s below – make sure you check for the presence of any underground power cable or other services before you begin digging.

Don’t forget to check for underground services especially in the footpath before you start to dig. For more information refer to cable locations. Please be aware a charge will apply for locating cables that are privately owned service lines. Click on this link for information about service line responsibilities.

If you plan to excavate more than 300mm deep within 2 metres of a power pole or pylon you must, by law, complete and submit an excavation permit to PowerNet System Control. Click here to download an excavation permit. You must allow at least seven days notice when submitting the permit.

Please note additional pole supports are often required to prevent the line collapsing. For your protection, don’t start this work until you call PowerNet System Control on 0800 808 587 or email before starting any work.

If you damage a power cable while excavating treat it as live and keep all people and animals well away from the area.

Contact PowerNet System Control immediately on 0800 808 587 if you suspect any damage has occurred, do not try to correct the situation yourself and please never cover up a damaged cable.