Campaign will encourage people to stay safe this winter

With winter now upon us and the increased prospect of severe weather conditions, SP Energy Networks has today announced the launch of a new campaign called ‘Live Wires’ to highlight the potential dangers of fallen power lines, and to encourage members of the public to report any incidents that they witness.

SP Energy Networks, which manages more than 10,000km of cables and over 30,000 substations across its network, will use the campaign to highlight its safety message across the country.

Severe winter weather such as storm-force winds, which can bring down trees and blow up debris, pose the biggest threats to overhead power lines. However, power lines can also be damaged by vehicle collisions and agricultural incidents, as well as by theft and vandalism. Last winter, the company responded to around 75 incidents in Scotland where lines had been damaged and cables had come down, with severe weather the biggest cause.

In other years the winter weather has had an even bigger impact. In January 2012 Scotland experienced some of the most destructive storm force winds for decades and, on 2nd January alone, SP Energy Networks responded to over 1,000 incidents, many involving damaged power lines and fallen cables. Engineers and linesmen carried out major engineering repairs and cleared debris from uprooted trees, which caused severe damage to the lines in a matter of hours.

SP Energy Networks has issued its top five safety tips in the event of discovering a fallen power line:

Always assume the power line is ‘live’, even if it has fallen to ground or been damaged

· Stay at least five metres away and keep others away if it is safe for you to do so

· If the line has fallen on to an object such as a fence or vehicle, keep five metres away – assuming it could be ‘live’

· Contact SP Energy Networks new emergency hotline number immediately, the company may not instantly be aware that a power line has been damaged (0330 1010 222 for mobiles and 0800 092 9290 for landlines)

· Touching power lines, or touching objects or people in contact with the lines can be fatal. Stay clear until help arrives

Ewan McMillan, SP Energy Networks Health and Safety Director, said: “At this time of year we must be extra vigilant of the threat of winter weather on the network. Although grounded power lines are rare, they can pose a serious safety threat unless the right precautions are taken, which is why the Live Wires public safety campaign is so important.

“As always, I would encourage members of communities right across our network area in Scotland to be aware of the dangers, and familiarise themselves with the SPEN emergency number in case they are unsure of what to do if they witness a grounded power line. By promoting the risks we hope to inform members of the public on how to stay safe.”

This year alone SP Energy Networks has invested over £90 million on overhead power line maintenance, tree cutting works and flood defences to make the network as robust as possible ahead of winter. Aerial thermal imaging inspections have also been carried out on thousands of miles of the company’s overhead power lines, allowing the team to detect any possible defects and plan repairs.

Guidance on working safely near overhead power lines can be found on: http://www.spenergynetworks.co.uk/pages/safety.asp