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Safety Doesn’t Grow on Trees

Be safe when planting this spring

A well-positioned tree can provide a windbreak, offer shade, reduce carbon in the environment and serve to beautify your landscape. This year, Arbor Day is observed April 26 nationwide (although Texas also recognizes the first Friday in November as its Arbor Day). It’s a great time to plant a tree.

But your electric cooperative wants to make sure you do so safely. Whether planting trees this spring or later this fall, it’s important that you keep power lines in mind—and keep tree limbs well away.

Trees that grow too close to power lines can create shock and fire hazards and lead to power outages. Trees and wood conduct electricity under the right conditions, causing outages or momentary interruptions when branches touch overhead lines. Electrical arcing and sparking from a wire to a nearby branch also can cause fires.

Safe Electricity urges parents and caregivers to teach children never to climb trees near power lines. Accidental contact of electric wires with a tree limb while climbing or playing around the tree can be fatal.

Landowners must understand utility line tree trimming and clearance practices and why they’re important to safe and reliable electric service. If you have trees that appear to be growing into power lines, contact your electric utility. Never try to prune them yourself. Your electric cooperative has skilled professionals trained to prune and trim trees safely for electric line clearance.

Seek help in choosing and placing trees that provide shade, color and screening that won’t grow to interfere with the electric infrastructure. When landscaping, take the time to research tree selections by consulting your local arborist, nursery or utility experts who can assist in designing a beautiful, shade-filled yard with trees appropriate for each area.

To avoid future electrical hazards, safe planting tips include:

• Consider the mature height of trees. Never plant a tree that could grow to a height of 25 feet or more near a power line. Tall-growing trees should be planted at least 25 feet away from power lines and 50 feet away to avoid future pruning. A mature height of less than 15 feet is recommended for trees planted closer to lines.

• Do not plant near underground utility services. Tree roots can grow to interfere with underground pipes, cables and wires. Future repairs to these facilities also could damage the health and beauty of nearby plants and trees.

• Keep areas around electric meters, transformers or other electrical equipment free of any vegetation that could limit utility service access.

• Before digging, call 811 to have the locations of underground utilities marked to prevent accidental contact, damage and injuries.

There are many beautiful varieties of low-growing trees and shrubs that provide color, screening and shade as well as enhance the quality of life in our communities and environment. Consider the types of trees that coexist well with power lines and the environment to avoid the need for trimming for line clearance.