Watch out for a fatal electric shock
In recent years high-voltage overhead power lines have proven a real hazard for anglers using long fishing rods. Electric current can be transferred from an overhead power line to a fishing rod and result in a fatal shock. Make sure you take great care when handling a fishing rod near power lines.
Serious accidents caused by electricity have been very rare in Finland for a long time. Despite such high level of electrical safety, serious − even fatal − electrical accidents still take place every year.
The most common of these are accidents involving those operating machinery under overhead cables. In these cases a high-reaching part of a machine has come too close to an overhead power line, resulting in a discharge of electricity into the person operating the machine.
Although power line-related accidents usually take place in the work context, you must also remember to remain alert when engaging in leisure activity under overhead power lines. In recent years fishermen using long carbon-fibre rods have also suffered a few serious electrical accidents in Finland.
You should also remember the conductivity of carbon-fibre rods during thunderstorms. If you are caught out in a thunderstorm, stop fishing or at least place your rod on the ground or a rod rest and do not touch it.
Electricity can jump from a high-voltage power line
You do not even have to touch a high-voltage power line to get an electric shock. Electricity can arc – jump − across a gap to an item that conducts electricity if it comes too close to the cable.
The most common type of high-voltage power line carries a voltage of 20 kV (kilovolts) and the minimum distances (clearances) from such power lines are 2m beneath the line and 3m when measured sideways. The higher the voltage the larger the minimum clearance. The minimum clearance for the highest-voltage power lines carrying 400 kV is 5m.
Make sure you take the reach of your rod into consideration when assessing the distance, whatever the situation. In practice it is often wisest to allow clearance that is much larger than the minimum distances specified for different voltages. To minimise risk, you should always keep your fishing rod collapsed down and horizontal near the ground when walking under a power line.
Carbon-fibre fishing rods conduct electricity
Accidents caused by fishing rod contact with overhead power lines have usually involved carbon-fibre rods that are 6m or longer. The victim has held the rod upright underneath a power line and electricity has passed through the rod to the angler. Carbon fibre is a very good electricity conductor.
Carbon-fibre fishing rods must feature a warning: "Carbon-fibre fishing rods must not be used in the immediate vicinity of high-voltage power lines."
In addition to the above information, the data required by the Government decree on information to be supplied in respect of consumer products and services (613/2004) must be provided about these products, including the name of the manufacturer or the party for whom the product was manufactured as well as the necessary instructions for use. All markings must be provided in Finnish and Swedish.
Ensure fishing competition safety
Those organising fishing competitions must carefully inspect the site for any power lines and overhead cables and make sure the competition takes place in an area that does not contain any hazards. All the paths taken by those participating in the competition must also be safe. If, however, it is impossible to avoid walking near a power line, the participants must be provided with clear instructions and signposting to ensure safety.
The competition must be discontinued if weather conditions (thunderstorm) so require and must not proceed again until fishing is safe again.