British Columbia

Downed power lines are a danger most British Columbians don't recognize, survey finds

An online survey conducted by BC Hydro reveals most don't understand the hazard, nor what to do when they encounter fallen power line.

Online survey conducted by BC Hydro reveals most people don't understand the hazard, nor what to do

Storms, snow, and falling trees and branches are most often the cause of downed lines, but car crashes and animals also cause problems. (CBC)

With a major windstorm bearing down on the South Coast, BC Hydro is revealing surprising results of a new survey that found most British Columbians do not understand the danger of a downed power line — nor do they know what to do when they encounter one. 

The online survey of 600 people found that one-third of the respondents have encountered a downed or damaged power line — but nearly 60 per cent did not know it should be immediately reported to 911.

Nearly 35 per cent incorrectly believe a live power line makes a buzzing sound, showers sparks or smokes, when if fact there's no way to tell if a line is live by just looking at it.

About 25 per cent of respondents did not know to stay 10 metres away from a downed line.

Because of the increasing severity and frequency of storms, BC Hydro has been dealing with a 65 per cent increase in downed power lines in the past five years — up from 6,100 incidents in 2013 to nearly 10,000 in 2017.

In the past five years, incidents of downed power lines in B.C. have increased 65 per cent. (Maritime Electric)

BC Hydro spokesman Kevin Aquino called the results of the survey "alarming."

Storms, snow, and falling trees and branches are most often the cause of downed lines, but car crashes and animals also cause problems. 

The chances of encountering a downed line are much higher in the fall and winter months.

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