Practice safety around electricity with Drones
Know BEFORE you buy

PENSACOLA, Florida - Every year there is a “must have” Christmas gift that children, and adults as well, hope to find under the tree. It seems there’s at least one item that has shoppers lining up in droves. Think Cabbage Patch kids, Tickle Me Elmo and the Nintendo Wii.

This year, as was last year, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or Drones, are the hot ticket item. During the 2015 holiday season, drone sales increased 445 percent from the 2014 holiday season, and are expected to increase even more this year.

With Christmas around the corner, these aircrafts are at the top of the wish list for many, but Gulf Power wants to warn customers before they invest in purchasing a drone, they are not toys. Practice is needed to fly them safely and users must adhere to Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations and state restrictions. 

"The lower price of unmanned aircraft along with the newer technology has made drones more affordable and attractive to more people," said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson. "But, many are not familiar with the rules of flying and as more people enter the hobby drone scene, the potential for crashes and accidents multiply. We want consumers to have fun with unmanned aircraft but we want them to follow these best practices for safety, especially when around electricity."

Safe operation is a clear priority for flyers, new or experienced. One of the biggest safety concerns, said DelaHaya, is to not fly over critical infrastructure such as power lines, substations and other electrical equipment.

“Any activity that distracts people from the possible dangers around them, and could potentially put them near our electrical equipment and lines, is a major concern for us,” said DelaHaya. “Parents of children, and those adults flying drones need to remember safety around electricity.”

Other important safety tips to keep in mind when flying your drone according to the FAA include:

  • You must be 13 years of age or older (if the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the small unmanned aircraft).
  • Don’t fly your drone above 400 feet.
  • Always keep your drone in eyesight.
  • Don’t fly in bad weather conditions like high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Stay clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft, especially low-flying airplanes and helicopters.
  • Remain at least 25 feet away from other people and vulnerable property. Don’t fly over moving vehicles.
  • Contact the airport or control tower before flying within five miles of an airport.
  • Don’t fly near or over power plants, power substations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
  • Make sure other nearby drone operators are competent and proficient in flying drones.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Don’t conduct surveillance or photograph people in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission.

Also, be sure to read the Federal Aviation Administration’s new rules and regulations drone pilots are required to follow. For more information, read the FAA’s Fly for Fun.


Gulf Power is an investor-owned electric utility with all of its common stock owned by Atlanta-based Southern Company. Gulf Power serves more than 450,000 customers in eight counties throughout Northwest Florida. The company’s mission is to safely provide exceptional customer value by delivering reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity while strengthening our communities. Visit online at or on the company’s Facebook page. News information can be found at

News Media Contacts:

Rick DelaHaya
Media Relations Supervisor
850-444-6433, cell 318-294-2338

Natalie Smith
Media Relations
850-444-6784, cell 850-375-6123

Kimberly Blair
Media Relations