If your mature tree's canopy is beginning to envelop nearby power lines, for safety's sake, you should seriously consider pruning it. Once a tree's branch meets an overhead electric wire, that tree is likely to become energized. That means the tree could electrocute anyone that touches it, and cause injury or even death.
Are you considering pruning a tree on your property? If there are overhead electric wires within 10 feet of its branches, you could be putting yourself in serious danger.
Electricity Wants to Go Down
Some people look at the birds perched on power lines and mistakenly assume that this means those power lines are harmless. Remember, electricity always seeks the easiest route to the ground. Since birds are not in contact with the ground, the electrical current will not pass through them.
However, although wood is a poor conductor of electricity, if you touch an energized tree, the electric current will travel through you. Put simply, you become electricity's path of least resistance, allowing the electric current to reach the ground more easily.
Even a Low Voltage Can Kill
In Southern Australia, power distribution lines such as those found in a typical street, vary in voltage from 415 volts to 66,000 volts. However, just because a power line is low voltage, this doesn't mean it isn't life-threatening.
Research clearly shows that a relatively low voltage of 75 can be just as deadly as a voltage that runs into the upper hundreds. The risk of electrocution increases if a tree is wet. Likewise, if you place a wet ladder, even a wooden one, against a tree that is in contact with overhead electric lines, the electric current will jump from the ladder to you.
Hire a Professional to Trim Your Tree
Even if your tree is not yet in contact with a power line that could soon change once you begin to trim the tree. Even climbing into a tree could cause its branches to shift and touch nearby power lines. And no, rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes or boots will not necessarily protect you from electrocution.
In order to prevent a current from traveling through you and into the ground, your boots or shoes need to be made of pure rubber. Rubber that is mixed with other materials, such as plastic, will not help. However, a professional tree lopper will wear boots and gloves made with pure rubber.
They will also be well trained in removing trees and tree branches that are in the vicinity of overhead electric lines. If your mature tree is growing dangerously close to overhead electric lines, call in the professionals. Never attempt to tackle such a dangerous job yourself.