Birds and Power Lines

Have you ever wondered why the birds that sit on power lines don’t get shocked? It’s because the electricity is always looking for a way to get to the ground, but the birds are not touching the ground or anything in contact with the ground.

If you touched a power line while you were in contact with the ground (or standing on a ladder or roof) electricity would travel through you. And if your kite or balloon got tangled in a power line and you touched the string, electricity could travel down the string and into you on its way to the ground. Both situations would mean a serious shock!

Have you ever wondered why people who work up on power lines don’t get shocked? Utility workers are trained to work with electricity. They wear special insulated boots, hardhats, and gloves, and use special insulated tools that help prevent shock. It would be a bad idea to climb a power pole and imitate them—and possibly fatal!