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Common Myths

Electricity is such a common tool in our everyday life. Many of us consider ourselves experts. The fact is, though, that many of us still have a lot to learn about how to be safe around electricity.

Think a downed power line is dead? Think again.

Think that rubber boots protect against shock? Not so.

There are so many myths about electricity. We consider it our mission to help people understand how they can be safer and to prevent needless injury and death.

Myth: Once a line is down, it's dead.

Power lines are never safe to touch. Even a fallen power line can re-energize at any time. No one should ever compare a downed power line to a blown fuse in their home. If you see a downed power line, call NB Power. Keep your distance from all downed power lines until a NB Power representative confirms that the line has been de-energized and is safe to touch.

Myth: Rubber boots, gloves and tires will protect you from electrical shock.

Domestic rubber boots, gloves and even tires are not rated to provide adequate protection against electric shock. Some types of rubber may provide some degree of protection but nobody should work on, approach, or touch any type of electrical line or equipment unless they are qualified to do so.

Myth: It takes high voltage to kill.

Even household voltages can be fatal. The human body provides limited protection from an electric circuit since the human body is made up of 70% water - and water is a good conductor of electricity. Any sustained electric shock, even at low voltage, can have serious consequences including irregular heartbeat or even death.

Myth: As long as my ladder doesn't touch the line, I'm safe.

Electrical arcing can occur if a conductive object (like a ladder) comes too close to a power line. In New Brunswick, the law (Occupational Health and Safety Act) states that unqualified persons must maintain a minimum distance of .9 m (3 feet) with any conductive object from the energized service wire (240 volts) supplying their home or dwelling, and that unqualified persons must maintain at least 3.6m (12 feet) with any conductive object from an overhead distribution line. Transmission line voltages require that unqualified persons maintain even greater distances with any equipment or conductive objects.

Myth: I'm only digging a little hole in the ground, I don't need to worry about power lines.

Underground wiring is very common in many areas in New Brunswick . Many homes and properties contain underground utilities such as electricity, natural gas, phone, cable, and water. Hitting or damaging underground power lines can be just as dangerous as touching overhead lines - resulting in serious injury or death. Before beginning any digging project - whether residential or commercial - individuals or companies should call NB Power for a free underground locate.

Myth: It's safe to remove the third prong from a plug or extension cord.

It is never safe to remove the third prong or “ground” from a plug or extension cord. This is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk of shock or electrocution. Removing the third prong could diminish the grounding capabilities of the tool or appliance and result in serious injury or even death in certain job conditions. All cords should be examined periodically to make sure there are no nicks or cuts that are deep enough to penetrate the outer insulation jacket. If there are, discard the cord or have it replaced by a qualified person.