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Jim in Los Altos

To Trim Or Not To Trim (Power Lines)

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Jim in Los Altos

My utility company, PG&E, alerts me two or three times a year that the pictured Archotophoenix needs to be trimmed by the power lines. I always take care of it myself because their tree workers tend to butcher. Todays the last time I’ll do this. 
 

While near the top of my ladder and with my 25’ extendible aluminum saw, I sawed the leaf’s stem and the frond bent down and onto the high tension wires sending several hundred volts down the pole and into me which threw me off the latter and onto the flagstone and concrete patio below. Luckily nothing broken but a badly pulled tendon in my right knee and a badly swollen and painful left wrist. Tail bone is pretty sore too but it could have been much worse so I’m happy about that. I’ll never forget the feeling of the jolt I got either. 
 

The frond remained on the two wires and smoking until I got the utility company tree guys over to extract it. So the lesson is: It’s just not worth it to mess with anything near power lines! 
 

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A81056D1-6276-4BD8-9E21-497C468EFF2B.jpeg.9077c0ac980e7d2d295baa31fd015f98.jpeg

Edited by Jim in Los Altos
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Silas_Sancona
3 minutes ago, Jim in Los Altos said:

My utility company, PG&E, alerts me two or three times a year that the pictured Archotophoenix needs to be trimmed by the power lines. I always take care of it myself because their tree workers tend to butcher. Todays the last time I’ll do this. 
 

While near the top of my ladder and with my 25’ extendible aluminum saw, I sawed the leaf’s stem and the frond bent down and onto the high tension wires sending several hundred volts down the pole and into me which threw me off the latter and onto the flagstone and concrete patio below. Luckily nothing broken but a badly pulled tendon in my right knee and a badly swollen and painful left wrist. Tail bone is pretty sore too but it could have been much worse so I’m happy about that. I’ll never forget the feeling of the jolt I got either. 
 

The frond remained on the two wires and smoking until I got the utility company tree guys over to extract it. So the lesson is: It’s just not worth it to mess with anything near power lines! 
 

957CFD5A-4CF1-4241-86B9-9AD1FCC4916B.jpeg.708eb791a4ddcb0f7f55513324df66bd.jpeg

A81056D1-6276-4BD8-9E21-497C468EFF2B.jpeg.9077c0ac980e7d2d295baa31fd015f98.jpeg

Oof!  Glad you're alright Jim.   Always get nervous whenever i see tree guys trimming anything near power lines.. 

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Dypsisdean

So the current went from the wire through the frond and into your saw??? I wouldn't have thought that would happen.

Glad you're still with us.

 

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D. Morrowii

Wow! You are lucky you weren't killed. Glad you made it out with minor injuries. 

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D. Morrowii

If those wires are on the primary side the voltage may have been 4160, 12,000 or 36,000 volts!  Was the handle of your saw aluminum? 

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Jim in Los Altos
48 minutes ago, D. Morrowii said:

If those wires are on the primary side the voltage may have been 4160, 12,000 or 36,000 volts!  Was the handle of your saw aluminum? 

Yes, aluminum but the grip is vinyl which likely saved me. I stupidly wasn’t wearing gloves at the time either. 

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Jim in Los Altos
54 minutes ago, Dypsisdean said:

So the current went from the wire through the frond and into your saw??? I wouldn't have thought that would happen.

Glad you're still with us.

 

The frond was still smoldering over half an hour later when the utility tree guys came to remove it. 

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Darold Petty

Wow,  Jim,  I am so sorry to hear this story.   Best wishes for your speedy recovery.  

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JLM

Wow, glad you're okay, and hope for a speedy recovery!

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Jim in Los Altos
16 minutes ago, Darold Petty said:

Wow,  Jim,  I am so sorry to hear this story.   Best wishes for your speedy recovery.  

Thanks Darold. The things we do for the love of palms. 

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Looking Glass

Lucky man.  Glad you are OK.  People forget around here how dangerous those lines are.  It’s a huge, predictable problem in my neighborhood.   So much so that as much as I love palms, I believe that the power company should cut the crown completely off any palm too near the wires.  It’s too dangerous, and with hurricanes here, too selfish to the community to leave them there.   

One night I came home and one of the neighbors royals was on fire and showering embers everywhere.  They call it “self pruning” here.  

7C31EDA3-DC75-4810-9D78-F49822556CBC.thumb.jpeg.3ae398108ec38367585e13e5e9fc797d.jpeg

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spike
2 hours ago, Dypsisdean said:

So the current went from the wire through the frond and into your saw??? I wouldn't have thought that would happen.

Glad you're still with us.

 

Yeah, apparently electricity can travel through plants. Back when I lived in hawaii, there was a warning somewhere about not picking mangoes near power lines. Not this one, but pretty similar. https://www.khon2.com/local-news/hawaiian-electric-stresses-fruit-picking-safety-near-power-lines-after-wahiawa-injury/

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James B

Wow glad to hear your ok Jim. My lines are underground in my neighborhood. After reading this post I’m lucky to not have them overhead. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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NOT A TA

Glad you're weren't hurt worse Jim! I have also seen more than one fire when palms touch wires. 

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The Gerg

Major catastrophe avoided I guess, but still pretty gnarly. Glad it wasn’t worse and that you are ok.

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redant

I don't go next to the ones by the power lines. I have a huge amount of respect for electricity.  Glad you are OK, now let the power company handle those lol. 

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Butch

Glad you're OK Jim... I was an electrician for 43 years and know what high voltage can do... You were very lucky... I have a foxtail that SCE has been trimming (butchering)  for a few years.... I won't get near those high voltage lines... I think, this next time, I will let them remove it...

Butch

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miamicuse

aren't these lines insulated?  Did the insulation get nipped?  That's so scary glad you are ok.

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Billeb
56 minutes ago, Butch said:

Glad you're OK Jim... I was an electrician for 43 years and know what high voltage can do... You were very lucky... I have a foxtail that SCE has been trimming (butchering)  for a few years.... I won't get near those high voltage lines... I think, this next time, I will let them remove it...

Butch

That’s a good size Wodyetia to be up in those lines. :shaka-2:

-dale

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Butch
31 minutes ago, miamicuse said:

aren't these lines insulated?  Did the insulation get nipped?  That's so scary glad you are ok.

Believe me, you don't want to be near those lines... Insulation or not... Those kind of voltages will jump a big gap...

Butch

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Butch
12 minutes ago, Billeb said:

That’s a good size Wodyetia to be up in those lines. :shaka-2:

-dale

Jyo7poW.jpg

Butch

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Billeb
3 minutes ago, Butch said:

Jyo7poW.jpg

Butch

Holy Foxtail Batman!!! That thing is yuuuuge! 
 

***drinking coffee now pondering if my double Foxtail is in the correct location??!?!**
 

-dale

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Butch
28 minutes ago, Billeb said:

Holy Foxtail Batman!!! That thing is yuuuuge! 
 

***drinking coffee now pondering if my double Foxtail is in the correct location??!?!**
 

-dale

It's all in the perspective...It's a really nice sized foxtail, but not "Royal Palm" sized... That pic does enhance its size...

Butch

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LJG

Wow, crazy. Happy 64th Birthday :)

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miamicuse

I wonder if I should stop pruning my Chinese Fan Palms.

906754433_IMG_20220421_183240-Copy.jpg.8588e679aa85c83e22bbf7620187cb6a.jpg

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Reeverse

Glad your OK. That’s super scary. Usually it kills 

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Jim in Los Altos
4 hours ago, miamicuse said:

aren't these lines insulated?  Did the insulation get nipped?  That's so scary glad you are ok.

High tension wires way up there are not insulated. Just the lower level ones are. 

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Tracy
1 hour ago, Jim in Los Altos said:

High tension wires way up there are not insulated. Just the lower level ones are. 

Glad you came out with only the damage you did as clearly it could have been much worse.  Quite the PSA for those of us in neighborhoods with above ground powerlines.  I'm fortunate that the power is across the street from me and I under-grounded the feed from the pole to my house at no small expense.  My only remaining challenge are the phone and cable lines which run along my other street facing, but at least no power lines on that side.  After your reminder, I won't volunteer to help neighbors across the street with any of their trimming and suggest they leave it up to the power company's tree trimmers.

Hope you have a speedy recovery, which is getting more and more difficult to come by as we become "not so young".  I prefer this euphemism over using the "o" word.

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tinman10101

glad you are ok jim.  lets just say someone was looking out for you from above.  godspeed your recovery. 

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GottmitAlex

Thank God you're OK Jim.

I'm with @redant on this one: let's the power company handle it.

 

 

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Kim

Lucky escape, Jim! I hope your knee and wrist will not be constant reminders of this mishap. Did you seek medical attention? I barely even do ladders anymore, let along with pole saws and overhead electrical wires. Glad you are here to tell the tale.

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Jim in Los Altos
1 hour ago, Kim said:

Lucky escape, Jim! I hope your knee and wrist will not be constant reminders of this mishap. Did you seek medical attention? I barely even do ladders anymore, let along with pole saws and overhead electrical wires. Glad you are here to tell the tale.

Most of my palms are self shedding so I done have to do a lot of trimming myself. The palm I was trimming is self cleaning of course but obviously needed trimming on the power line side. I’ve learned an important lesson for sure. Will be on crutches a few days but am already doing a lot better just a day later. Wrist and tail bone are pretty achey and swollen. Even at my age though (64),  I tend to heal fast. :)

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Darold Petty

Jim, I'm retired, and can now offer to sell you my non-conductive fiberglass ladders, just sayin'   :D

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palmfriend

Jim,

what a story! I am really glad you got away alive!!  You definitely made the right the decision - our palms are often worth to go the extra mile but not worth to risk your

own life! 

One more thing -  when I started this hobby for myself you were always a great source of inspiration and I always enjoyed the images you provided here on pt. I would love

to have a little tour in your garden one day - of course only by invitation - so "don't screw it!" :D

 

best regards and a speedy recovery

Lars

 

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kinzyjr

@Jim in Los Altos Glad you lived to tell the tale and apparently without a serious injury. 

There was a gentleman a while back that tried to remove a dead snake that someone had thrown over the power line a while back.  When he touched the snake, the current went through him and blew the bottoms of his feet off.  Thankfully nothing so serious in this case.

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palmsrgreat

Wow, good lord Jim! So glad it wasn't worse and thankful you only suffered minor injuries (maybe a little pride :bemused:) and will be ok. Thanks for sharing your experience as a reminder to all. Rest easy and take care.

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Palm Tree Jim

Glad to hear you are OK.

Time to retire that ladder!

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dalmatiansoap

Consider that as your second birthday. It could easily end up fatal. Leave that things to a pro.  Wish you a fast recovery!

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dalmatiansoap
On 4/22/2022 at 8:15 PM, miamicuse said:

I wonder if I should stop pruning my Chinese Fan Palms.

906754433_IMG_20220421_183240-Copy.jpg.8588e679aa85c83e22bbf7620187cb6a.jpg

This is insulated aerial bundle cabel, secondary line. Not dangerous as one Jim reached but you need to be careful anyway. 

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