SSEN urges kite-fliers to keep their eyes on the skies

With the first examples of kites believed to date back as far as 450BC, the original fliers didn’t have to worry about striking, or getting tangled up in, overhead electricity lines.

Kite-flying is still one of the most relaxing pastimes we can experience out in the fresh air but these days, if you fly too close to a power line you could end up with serious, potentially fatal, injuries.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution, the company behind the overhead lines, underground cables and substations that power Orkney, has noticed an increase in the number of incidents where kites have come into contact with their equipment over the past 12 months. 

Kite-surfing also continues to be an ever-popular pastime on Orkney, and with the kite itself launching from the beach and the extended length of its flying lines, there is potential for the surfer not being aware of electricity lines further inland. 

With this in mind, SSEN is encouraging enthusiasts to always carry out a risk assessment before they start flying and, especially for kite-surfers who are venturing far from their starting point, to take regular ‘pit stops’ to refresh themselves of their surroundings and the location of any overhead lines.

If your kite or equipment does get tangled up on the electricity lines or poles, SSEN has the following advice:

  • Let go of the string or any control cords immediately;
  • Don’t attempt to pull the kite free, high voltage electricity can travel down the cord;
  • Keep yourself and other people well away; and
  • Ring our 24hr emergency number, 105, and we will arrange for an engineer to safely remove the kite for you.

Colin Rendall, SSEN’s Orkney Operations Manager, said:

“In the last year our engineers have been called out to four separate incidents where kites have been caught up in our overhead lines. Thankfully none of these incidents saw any injuries, but each one had the potential for a tragic outcome.

“When you’re out with your kite enjoying the fresh air, it can be too easy to lose yourself in the moment and not realise just how close you are to a section of our overhead equipment, and so we’re urging everyone to be aware of our overhead lines and poles before they start flying.

“Our advice is to always have a good look around to check for our poles and lines and if there’s even the slightest chance that your kite could end up getting close to our equipment, then please re-consider your location.”


About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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