With hunting season upon us, Safe Electricity reminds hunters to survey their surroundings before aiming at their 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,” said 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.”

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:

  • Write and share a hunting plan. Where will the hunt take place and for how long?
  • Wear blaze orange.
  • Know the hunting area. Check national forest boundaries and avoid private land. Survey the area for potential electrical hazards.
  • Do not lean tree stands against utility poles. Keep them far from overhead power lines.
  • Watch for power lines in wooded areas. Make sure they will not be in your line of sight when shooting.
  • Do not fire at power lines, insulators or conductor cans. They can drop to the ground and energize it or cause a fire.
  • Wear a full-body harness when in a tree stand to prevent falls that can cause serious injury.
  • Check tree stands regularly; they can deteriorate over time.
  • 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.
  • Have a way to get in touch with the outside world. Keep cellphones in a pocket rather than in a pack. Take a portable battery charger.
  • Always carry a first-aid kit.
  • 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 electrical safety information, visit SafeElectricity.org.

Ann Augspurger serves as the communications director for Safe Electricity. Safe Electricity is a public awareness program of the Energy Education Council.