There are many environmental and beautification benefits to planting young trees. However, Cotton Electric Cooperative and Safe Electricity want to remind everyone to be aware of electrical hazards while planting this year. Always seek help from professionals when choosing and placing trees and bushes.

Trees that grow too close to electric lines can create shock and fire hazards as well as power outages. More importantly, children can become victims of electric shock when they climb trees that have grown too close to the power lines as well. Trees growing into power lines can also create electrical hazards for people who might be trimming branches, hanging lights or otherwise working around them.

Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers and risks created when trees grow into power lines and the importance of calling the utility or utility locator service before beginning any landscaping project.

Choosing the right tree for the right place is crucial, especially when it comes to power lines. Trees and wood in general can potentially conduct electricity and can create a safety hazard if grown close to electric lines. Power outages or momentary interruptions can occur when branches come into contact with overhead lines. Electrical arcing and sparking from a wire to a nearby branch can also cause fires.

Keep in mind expected height when you purchase trees to plant. Just because a tree is far from the power line right now, doesn’t mean it always will be.

If you have trees that appear to be growing into power lines, contact Cotton Electric. Never try to prune them yourself. Utilities can recommend skilled professionals trained to safely prune and trim trees for electric line clearance.

To avoid future electrical hazards, Safe Electricity recommends the following safety tips:

  • Consider mature height of trees. Never plant a tree near a power line that could grow within 25 feet of it. Tall growing trees should be planted a minimum of 20 feet away from power lines, and 50 feet away to avoid future pruning. A mature height of less than 15 feet is recommended for trees planted near power lines.

  • Do not plant near underground utility services. Tree roots can grow to interfere with underground pipes, cables and wires. Future repairs to these facilities also could damage the health and beauty of nearby plants and trees, or even require removal.

  • Keep areas around electric meters, transformers or other electrical equipment free of any vegetation that could limit utility service access.

  • Before digging, call the underground utility locator service to mark the location of underground utilities so that accidental contact, damage and injuries can be avoided. The number is 811 or 1-800-522-OKIE (6543). You can also start a ticket at