Antenna Safety

Before starting work on erecting a new antenna, a few basic rules should be remembered – the main one being that safety should be considered at all times. Most accidents can be avoided by spending a little time taking precautions and taking more care.

Another thing – it is always a good idea to tackle antenna erection work with a friend. That way, if there is an accident there will be someone to help.

Power lines and other cables

Sign saying danger - High Voltage

Never erect antennas near electrical power lines

Antennas should never be erected in locations where they could fall on to power lines.

If you are installing antennas check the area around your property for power cables.

If you have what you think are telephone lines it is worth double checking – treat every line as potentially lethal. Also be aware that you don’t even have to touch high tension lines to be killed – at sufficiently high (kilovolt) levels the current can jump across the air gap. At these power levels you are unlikely to survive as there are major burn risks as well as shock effects.

The golden rules are:

  • Keep all objects – including masts, poles, ladders, tools and antennas – far away from power lines at all times. If in doubt consult an expert or leave well alone.
  • If you are taking down or moving an antenna, be aware of new power lines that may have been put up since the antenna was first installed.
  • Never assume that an overhead power line is electrically insulated; always assume that contact with any line can be lethal.
  • Don’t rely on fibreglass fishing rods (roach poles) or wooden poles being insulators.
  • Keep the distance from an antenna or pole to the power line at least twice the height of the antenna or pole.
  • Be aware that you can be electrocuted by touching a power line directly or by touching a conductive material (such as a metal ladder, antenna, or pipe) that is in contact with it.
  • Keep away from all downed power lines. A power line that touches the ground can shock or kill you even if you do not touch it. The electrical current can travel through the ground and into your body.
  • If your co-worker does contact an electrical wire, do not touch them. Instead, cut off the power if you can or use an insulated pole to knock the energised conductor away from them. If the person is not breathing, immediately start CPR and call for emergency assistance.

It might be a good idea to invite a first aid speaker to your club to talk about resuscitation techniques. Please don’t become a statistic.

Other safety tips

Proper precautions should be taken when climbing ladders and the correct materials should always be used when erecting antennas so that they do not fall on people.

Installing antennas and cabling often means drilling holes through walls and ceilings. If you are doing this make sure that you are not about to drill through an electrical wire or water/gas pipe.

If in doubt, don’t do it or seek professional advice. You can get detectors that will help you find wiring or copper pipework, but don’t rely on these. They won’t spot plastic pipework either.

If working in the loft bear in mind that there could be bare wiring or junction boxes. If the builder has done their job properly there shouldn’t be, but don’t take any chances.

These and other precautions are common sense and must be observed as the antenna is erected.

Other pages in this section – Antennas: