Understand the dangers of working near high-voltage power lines

Stay clear of power and gas lines

Whether you are pruning trees, cleaning gutters or hanging Christmas lights, it’s vital to stay away from all power lines, including the service wire from the pole to your home. 

Performing any work near power lines can be dangerous. Qualified contractors have special training and use insulated tools to avoid harm when pruning. Without the proper training and tools, a person can be injured or even killed.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) requires training and qualification of persons working within specific distances of overhead power lines. For details, see Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, Articles 37 and 38, Electrical Safety Orders. Only PG&E’s line clearance qualified contractors can work near power lines. Hiring an unqualified tree contractor can also put you at legal risk.

PG&E can help you prune your trees near power lines safely. We can create a safe distance between your trees and power lines. You can then hire a contractor for any additional work. You can call 1-800-743-5000 to request this ‘make safe’ service or a temporary service shutoff so you can prune near your service drop safely.

PG&E does not prune trees along service drops. These wires are low voltage and insulated. They connect from the pole to your home. They do not have the same distance rules as high voltage power lines.

For more power line safety information, please visit pge.com/mindthelines.

If you plan to dig, please call 811 at least two business days ahead of planned digging. This free service marks where underground utility lines are on your property. 

Recognize a tree in trouble

PG&E continually works on pruning trees that grow too close to our facilities. We want to reduce fire hazards and keep the public safe. We also want to provide uninterrupted electrical service.

The drought has caused many trees located near power lines to die or become dangerously unhealthy, making them susceptible to disease and infestations from pests such as bark beetles. Look for the signs of dead dying or diseased trees:

  • Bare branches
  • Brown leaves and needles
  • Cracked or leaning trunk and trails of fine sawdust near the tree base that indicate an insect infestation

If you’re concerned about trees that appear too close to power lines or dead near power lines, please call 1-800-743-5000(1-800-PGE-5000). Request a visit from an arborist. We can plan a visit to check the trees growing near power lines or answer other questions about trees and power lines.

Stay safe during storm outages

Stay away from downed power lines. For more on storm safety, visit safety and preparedness resources. PG&E’s tree maintenance programs reduce storm damage and power outages. You can help by alerting us to possible issues caused by trees. Contact PG&E if you see signs of trouble:

  • Trees that are uprooting or leaning toward power lines
  • Trees that have previously come into contact with power lines
  • Tree near power lines that have blown over due to strong winds

PG&E crews or contractors will remove trees and branches that cause outages. After clearing the vegetation, the tree owner is responsible for the rest of the trees’ clean up. PG&E is only responsible for restoring your electrical service. If you have phone, cable or other utility outages, reach out to those companies to restore your services.

Keep tree houses near power lines safe

Tree houses near PG&E facilities are very dangerous. Injuries or even death can result if:

  • Branches contact high voltage lines and electrify trees 
  • A person climbs from the tree house into electrical lines 
  • Sticks or other objects come in contact with electrical lines 

PG&E representatives can determine if tree houses are too close to power lines. Hazards are marked with a flag. PG&E can alert you of the danger either by phone or with a letter. For more information about power line safety for children, visit Safe Kids.

Create a defensible space around your home

You can help protect your property by creating a defensible space around your household. Defensible space is a perimeter around your home and other structures. This space can help stop the spread of fire.
Following are a few tips on how to create a defensible space and prevent the spread of fire:

  • Keep a clearing of at least 100 feet around your house to reduce fire hazards.
  • Leave space between planted vegetation. The space can prevent pathways that allow fires to spread.
  • Create "fuel breaks" such as driveways, gravel walkways or lawns.
  • Dispose of tree trimmings and other debris quickly. Local regulations define how quickly you must dispose of debris.

Discover more fire-wise tips. Visit NFPA Firewise Communities. The California Fire Safe Council also has a "Homeowners Checklist" to help make your home fire-safe. Visit California Fire Safe Council.