General outdoor safety tips:

Here are some common misconceptions and myths about electrical safety. Take a moment to read up, and remember to share this information with your children. It could save a life!

MYTH: Birds land on power lines, so they must be safe to touch.

Electricity wants nothing more than to go to ground, and will always do so by the easiest, most direct route – and all routes. Birds don’t get electrocuted when they land on wires because they don’t represent a path to ground. BUT a ladder, kite or even a wet string coming near or in contact with a power line will provide electric current with a new path to ground. If you are touching those things, you may well become part of that path and be electrocuted or severely injured. Don’t touch!

MYTH: Power lines are insulated, so they’re safe to touch.

Most overhead power lines are not insulated. Those that are, only have enough insulation to prevent problems with incidental tree contact, but often not enough to prevent injury to people. Underground lines are insulated but not safe to touch. Be safe and don’t touch any wires!

MYTH: As long as my ladder isn’t metal, it’s safe to rest on a power line.

Metal is one of the best conductors for electricity, but water is a good conductor, too. That means that any moisture on (or in) wood or another other material can conduct electricity. In fact, if something is wet or can get wet, it represents a potential hazard. Be safe – keep all ladders and other long objects away from power lines. (By the way, you are made of 70% water and are an excellent conductor.)

MYTH: As long as my ladder isn’t touching overhead power lines, I’m safe.

That depends on how far away your ladder and you are from the line. Electricity can arc and often does when a potential conductor like a metal ladder comes near it. The exact distance depends on things like weather conditions and the voltage of the power line. To be safe, stay at least 10 feet from overhead lines.

MYTH: I’m only digging a few inches in the ground, I don’t need to worry about underground power lines.

Whether you are planning to build a fence, plant some perennials or dig out an old stump, it’s important to locate underground utility lines before you start digging. Call the Oregon Utility Notification Center at 1-800-332-2344 at least 48 hours before you begin. Even if you are only digging a few inches, make the call. It’s free, it’s required by law, and it will prevent accidents, injuries and service interruptions.


MYTH: SUB put utility equipment at ground level right in my neighborhood, so it’s safe to be around.

Those green boxes are pad-mounted transformers, and they are safe to be around. But if the equipment is damaged because of vandals, careless landscaping or other causes, it could become a hazard. Tell children not to enter or play around utility electrical equipment, and if you notice damage, call SUB at 541-746-8451 immediately.