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Unison’s electricity safety tips to power your summer

With temperatures soaring and many of us spending more time outdoors and in the garden, electricity distributor Unison Networks is reminding the community to keep safe around electricity these holidays.

Unison Relationship Manager, Danny Gough says, “Summertime is often when we undertake tree trimming, maintenance, digging and general tidy-ups around the home.

“Please look up before you attempt to do any DIY work outside. Power lines are never safe to touch or get close to.

“Equally if you are digging or driving stakes or warratahs into the ground, ensure you check whether any cables are buried beneath you. There have been several close calls lately with members of the public installing warratahs around network cables, both on our network and other networks, which can be lethal if the warratah comes into contact with a live underground line.

“If you are unsure, call Unison - it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”

Unison may be able to arrange a temporary disconnection for safety if you are working within four metres of overhead power lines and can assist with locating underground cables on your property.

Mr Gough says another important electrical hazard the community should be aware of is trees growing too close to power lines.

“If you spot a tree growing close to power lines, Unison can arrange for a free inspection and quote from our vegetation team. The tree may be eligible to be removed or trimmed at our cost if we have not cut it before,” Mr Gough says.

As well as posing a safety hazard, Mr Gough says trees and branches hitting power lines cause around 20 percent of unplanned power cuts.

“Last summer around 20,000 customers experienced an outage over the three months due to vegetation faults on Unison’s network. Keeping trees at least four metres from the network helps to keep everyone safe and the power on.”

Unison undertakes proactive vegetation inspections over its 12,000-square kilometre network and in its last financial year, the vegetation team removed or trimmed around 21,000 trees.

Customers with trees that need urgent attention, who would like a safety disconnection or to locate underground cables should call 0800 2 UNISON or visit the website www.unison.co.nz.

Unison’s top summer safety tips:

Look up.
 Be aware of power lines above you when using ladders, flying kites or raising caravan antennas for example. Keep them well away from power lines and make sure any ladders you use have rubber feet touching the ground. Apply for a safety disconnection if you are working within four metres of overhead power lines. Electricity can ‘jump’ to nearby conductors (and that includes you). You can apply for a temporary disconnection for safety by calling Unison.

Look around for power boxes, big and small, as they are likely to be live electrical assets. Remember the five metre rule: if you plan to work within five metres of any asset you need to call Unison prior to organise a safe approach – for residential this is a free service and needs to be booked in advance.

Look down. Check for buried cables before digging. If you are near power boxes or know that there is a power line nearby there may be cables that you cannot see. If you are digging, installing stakes or warratahs, or undertaking renovations, contact Unison to find out the location of underground cables on your property boundary.

Tree safety. Keep your trees maintained and at least four metres from power lines to keep safe and reduce the possibility of an outage. If trees are within four metres, contact Unison for a list of a list of approved arborists.

Before deciding where to plant your trees, consider the species and their potential future height. Unison has a brochure on its website with species most suitable for planting near power lines.

Fallen power lines. If you see a fallen power line stay well clear, keep others away and call Unison immediately.

High load permit. If you need to transport a load above five metres in height (such as boats) through the Napier, Hastings, Rotorua and Taupo regions, it is crucial you apply for a high load permit with Unison. This will help ensure you are not at risk of hitting or damaging live power lines during your trip, which can be a very costly error. You can apply for a high load permit on Unison’s website or by calling Unison.

Make sure extension leads and power cables are in good condition. If there’s any damage, get rid of them or have a licensed repairer fix them. And never connect a piggyback plug or ordinary plug to the end of an extension lead to make it longer, the pins will be live.

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