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Fly drones safely  Smart Choices Archive

Fly drones safely

Be safe: Don't fly a drone near power lines. Photo courtesy of Safe Electricity


 It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a drone? Drones are unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) used increasingly both recreationally and professionally.

According to the New York Times in August 2016, it was estimated that there would be 2.8 million consumer drones sold in the U.S. in 2016 and a total worldwide of 9.4 million units.

As a result of the booming industry, there is an increasing need to ensure that these craft are flown safely and within regulations.

Drones and power lines don’t mix
Safe Electricity offers a reminder to beware of power lines when flying a drone. If a drone flies into a power line, it could cause power outages. It could also result in downed lines, which pose a dangerous electrical safety hazard. The falling debris could also endanger public safety.

Touching a downed line or anything it has fallen on, like a fence or a tree limb, could get you injured or even killed. Stay away, and instruct others to do the same. If you come across downed power lines, call 911 to notify emergency personnel and the utility immediately.

Fortune magazine reported in 2015 that a recreational drone collided with a power line in Los Angeles. The line snapped, which caused power for approximately 700 customers to be lost for several hours. In response the Los Angeles City Council approved a city regulation on drone-flight height.

Registration required for consumer drones and more
The federal government announced in December 2015 that it now requires individual hobbyists who own drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds to register with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Failure to register these drones could result in expensive civil and criminal fines as well as prison time.

For more information on getting started using a UAS for fun or for work, visit the FAA site. See a summary provided by the FAA about consumer registration of drones.  There are also guidelines in place for business use of drones.  

Follow federal guidelines for registering your drone or using a drone for business, and be aware of and abide by community and state-specific legislation.

Also keep these FAA safety guidelines from Safe Electricity in mind:

  • Before flying the drone, check it for damage; have a damaged drone repaired before use 
  • Never fly drones higher than 400 feet
  • Do not fly the drone beyond your line of sight
  • Do not fly near airports, manned aircraft, stadiums, or people
  • Do not fly for commercial purposes unless specifically authorized by the FAA
  • Do not fly in bad weather conditions, such as low visibility or high winds
  • Never fly your drone recklessly; you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft

More information

  • Find more outdoor electrical safety information at
  • Read the New York Times article on drones, which includes a guide to components and a video showing drone racing 
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