Thunder Bay Hydro Coporation

Serving the City of Thunder Bay with electricity.

Power Line Safety

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Touching an overhead power line

Electricity always wants to go to the ground.  When you touch an overhead power line, you can create a path to the ground.  Electricity will flow through your body and any other conductors (such as trees and ladders) to get to the ground.


Can electricity 'jump' from the lines?

Yes, it is not enough to not touch power lines.  You should stay 3-6 metres away from live power lines.  The safe distance depends on the voltage of the line.  The higher the voltage, the further it can jump.

Some electrical equipment is located in locked steel cabinets called transformers. 

We place our ground equipment on special pads to protect the area around them.  If you try to open or touch this electrical equipment , the electricity inside can  flow through your body to get to the ground around it. 

If a transformer cover is disturbed or the lock on the door is broken, please contact Thunder Bay Hydro.


Do not plant shrubs or erect fences around these transformers. Our crews need to access the transformer for maintenance and repairs.  

How far should you stay away from a downed power line that is lying on the ground?

Storms and high winds can often result in downed power lines.  Sometimes a motor vehicle accident can take a power line down.

Unlike in Hollywood movies, live power lines do not always snake and spark.  They may be lying quietly on the ground.

If you see a downed power line, maintain a distance of at least 10 meters (33 feet) or about the length of a school bus.

  • Report the downed line to 911 immediately and warn others not to approach.
  • Call Thunder Bay Hydro once you are safely away from the line and after you have called emergency personnel.

If you were in an accident and a power line came into contact with your vehicle, would you stay in your vehicle or get out quickly?

You should stay in your vehicle until emergency workers are able to tell you that the power is disconnected. Learn by watching the video below:

What about buried lines?

Power lines are found on poles above ground and they are also buried in certain neighbourhoods.  Other utility lines such as gas, cable, telephone and water are also buried throughout our city.

If you are planning to do a household project that required digging – such as planting a tree or building a deck – you should call for a FREE locate service to identify where electrical or other underground utilities are before you begin.

Before you place a shovel in the ground, you should call before you dig. IT IS THE LAW.

Ontario One Call provides a free service to locate underground utilities at or by phoning 1-800-400-2255.

Learn more at the Call Before You Dig page.

Trees interfering with power lines can create hazards

Always plant the right tree in the right place  to avoid this problem.  Report overgrown trees to Thunder Bay Hydro.


How do I ensure that I'm safe when trimming trees around my power lines?

If you wish to trim trees under your customer-owned lines, we can disconnect the power for free to ensure safe working conditions for you or your contractor.