If you live or work in a neighborhood that receives electric service from overhead power lines that run between utility poles, you tap into the energy grid through a line called a “service drop.” A service drop spans from a nearby utility pole to your home or business, and routes the high-voltage electricity running through our electric distribution lines to your meter and into your place.

We get a lot of questions about service drops from our customers, and from contractors who need to work near them each day. Since service drops tend to hang over yards and other public areas at relatively low heights – 10 to 12 feet – there’s sometimes a misconception that they’re not as dangerous as taller overhead lines, which are typically around 30 feet in the air. This is simply not true. They supply power to your entire home or business, and all the electrical outlets inside, so they should be treated with extreme caution.  

Your safety is our top priority, so we put together some tips to help you stay safe around service drops. We encourage you to share this information with your family and friends; doing so could save lives.

  • Be aware of the location of your service drop. Electricity is the lifeblood of communities and the engine of progress, but it’s also extremely dangerous. And whether a service drop is connected to a utility pole on one end and your home on the other, or one side is brought down by a tree, ice or anything else, it should always be treated as though it’s energized.
  • Steer clear.
    • Keep all ladders, lifts, pool skimmers and other objects at least 20 feet away from your service drop and other overhead power lines and electrical equipment. These objects have potential to conduct electricity to – and through – your body, which will kill you.
    • Keep kites, balloons, drones and any other floating or flying objects at least 20 feet away as well. Objects like kites and balloons can create potential to route electricity running through the service line to – and through – someone holding them on the ground. Drones and other devices create potential for severing the service drop, causing a downed power line, and in turn a public safety hazard.  
    • Never trim trees growing around – or near – a service drop. This work is extremely dangerous; we recommend you contact a professional tree-trimming company to perform this work.
    • Never attempt to move or handle a service drop. In the event of a downed power line resulting from high winds, falling trees, etc., call DTE to have the line de-energized and safely restrung. For all other work, contact a qualified electrician who knows the proper procedures and precautions required to complete this type of work safely.
    • Avoid service drops when painting and doing roof work, and any other type of project that may require you to get close to the line or the service drop or riser.
    • If you’re planning on renovating or building a home, patio or other structure, call DTE first to ensure your project complies with local and national safety guidelines, and to ensure you and your family – and your guests – remain safe.
  • If you have children, talk to them about electric safety. Create an environment of respect for – not fear of – energy and the role it plays in our everyday lives. Here are some resources to help guide your conversation.
  • In the event of a downed power line, treat the line as if it’s energized and stay at least 20 feet away from it and anything it may touch. Not all downed power lines arc, spark, smoke or buzz. Stay at least 20 feet away from the line and any fences, puddles or other objects that could conduct electricity, and report it by calling 911, or by contacting us at 800.477.4747 or through our website or mobile app.

Visit dteenergy.com/wiresafety for more downed power line safety tips.