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Gardeners and DIY-ers: Beware electricity cables

Warmer, longer days are usually the catalyst for keen gardeners and DIY-ers to get outside and carry our improvements to their gardens – but beware electricity cables!

From Press releases - 27 April 2016 12:00 AM

Warmer, longer days are usually the catalyst for keen gardeners and DIY-ers to get outside and carry our improvements to their gardens – but beware electricity cables!

While enthusiastically digging foundations for patios or trimming plants and trees, residents are not always aware they are near underground or overhead electricity cables.

Earlier this month, a gardener suffered burns to his legs and arms after a fence post he was putting up went through an electric cable in a London garden.

Last year there were two incidents in two days (in the area covered by UK Power Networks, which owns and operates power lines across the South East, London and East of England) in which residents were injured after coming into contact with underground cables while working in their gardens.

In the first incident in Suffolk, a man received an electric shock and burns to his arm when he cut through an underground cable after mistaking it for a tree root. The following day a man suffered burns to his face when he cut through a cable which he did not think was live while building a swimming pool in his Sussex garden.

UK Power Networks is urging residents to make simple safety checks before tackling projects in the garden including pruning back trees and wisteria.

Safety adviser Ros Forbes said: “Underground cables don’t necessarily run in straight lines, they can snake through the ground, are flexible and can run at different depths, so it is important to know where those cables are before any work begins on projects such as hammering in pegs for a marquee, installing fence posts or building a conservatory.

“Overhead power lines can also carry high voltages. They can look like telephone wires, but people should never assume this is the case. Electricity can jump gaps so direct contact is not needed.”

Before embarking on major digging work, residents should:

• contact UK Power Networks on 0800 056 5866 for advice or to obtain cable records.
• not use road pins, ground stakes or forks where known cables are present
• report any underground cable damage, even if it looks minor, and keep well clear.

Residents who are planning to trim back tree or climbing plants should always:

• remember to “look out and look up" for nearby power lines. Electricity can jump across gaps so do not allow equipment to get too close.
• assume a cable is a live power line - if there are any doubts whether an overhead line is a telephone or electricity service and contact UK Power Networks for advice on 0800 056 5866.

Anyone who accidentally makes contact with an underground cable or overhead power line should call 999 if they are injured or the cable is exposed, and contact UK Power Networks immediately on our 24-hour helpline 0800 316 3105 (free from a mobile and landline).