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As you hunt, look out for power lines and poles

man hunting with dog

Stay safe this hunting season in more ways than one

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Now that hunting season is upon us, Safe Electricity reminds hunters to survey their surroundings before aiming at the next big prize. Take a moment to look up and out for power lines before starting the hunt.

“While electrical safety may not be top of mind when starting a hunt, contact with a power line, utility pole, or related equipment can alter the path to ground, sending electricity through anyone or anything that comes too close or in direct contact with the power source," says Erin Hollinshead, executive director of Safe Electricity. “Even coming within 10 feet can cause an arc, transferring energy from the power line/source to an object or person.”

A look at general hunting safety

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that 101.6 million Americans participate in wildlife-related activities each year, such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching. It is estimated that there are 11.5 million hunters and nearly 36 million anglers.

Hunting is ranked as one of the safer activities when compared with other sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and jogging. Over the past 20 years, the number of unintentional firearm fatalities has declined. From 1997 to 2017, the number dropped by 50%, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (

Hunters should put safety first, as incidents and accidents do happen. Cardiac disease, lacerations, and tree-stand accidents are the most common reasons for hunters to visit the emergency room.

Be safe out there and follow these guidelines:

  1. Write and share a hunting plan. Where will the hunt take place and for how long?
  2. Wear blaze orange.
  3. Know the hunting area. Check national forest boundaries and avoid private land. Survey the area for potential electrical hazards.
  4. Do not lean tree stands against utility poles. Keep them far from overhead power lines.
  5. Watch for power lines in wooded areas. Make sure they will not be in your line of sight when shooting.
  6. Do not fire at power lines, insulators, or conductor cans. They can drop to the ground and energize it or cause a fire.
  7. Wear a full-body harness when in a tree stand to prevent falls that can cause serious injury.
  8. Check tree stands regularly; they can deteriorate over time.
  9. Watch for the warning signs of a heart attack or other life-threatening condition. Hunters can walk far distances when shooting and dragging an animal. Completing these activities (especially if the person is not otherwise active) can increase the heart rate and induce heart attacks.
  10. Have a way to get in touch with the outside world. Keep your cell phone in a pocket rather than in a pack. Take a portable battery charger.
  11. Always carry a first-aid kit.
  12. Respect firearms: Have the safety on, handle the gun like it is always loaded, always point it away from others, and know what and where the target is.

For more information about electrical safety, visit

Safe Electricity is the award-winning, public awareness program of the Energy Education Council, a 501(c) 3 established in 1952 on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With offices located in Springfield, Ill., Safe Electricity operates under the University of Illinois Extension and is led by the Safe Electricity/EEC Board of Directors. Since the Safe Electricity program was created in 2001, it has provided thousands of safety-minded resources to its more than 500 utility members from across the country to help save lives and reduce injuries.

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.