How to Stay Safe Around Downed Power Lines: Dos and Don’ts

Sep 30, 2020

After a strong wind or violent storm, it’s much more likely that you’ll encounter a downed power line–a power line that has fallen to the ground. Downed power lines can severely injure or even kill someone who touches them or comes near them. Stay safe by making sure you know all the “dos and don’ts” about these electrical hazards below.

If you encounter a downed power line while walking…

  • DON’T touch the powerline with your body or any object. Always assume the line is “energized,” meaning it can electrocute you. Touching a powerline can easily injure or kill you if an electrical current is running through it. You can’t tell if a line is energized or not just by looking at it, so always err on the side of caution.

  • DO keep your distance to avoid electrocution through the ground. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), the ground around power lines may be energized up to 35 feet away.

  • DON’T touch a person, animal, or object that has touched the power line. Though it may be heartwrenching to leave them there, you could also be electrocuted by touching them or walking within the energized area. Family members trying to help each other have died this way. Instead, protect yourself and others, and call 911.

  • DO call 911. You should report downed powerlines immediately to emergency services.

  • DO attempt to keep others away. While maintaining a safe distance yourself, warn anyone you see who might unwittingly enter the energized area.

  • DO shuffle away from a downed power line if you get too close to it. You can avoid a strong electric shock by taking small steps and keeping your feet together and in contact with the ground at all times.

If a downed power line touches your car while you’re inside…

  • DON’T get out of your car. The ground surrounding your vehicle might be energized. You shouldn’t leave your car until the authorities tell you it’s safe to do so.

  • DO call 911 on your cell phone to tell emergency services your situation. If you can’t call 911, honk your horn or roll down your window and call for help.

  • DO warn anyone who comes to help not to come close. Ask them to call 911 for you.

If your car catches on fire:

  • DO take off loose clothing items.

  • DO jump clear of your vehicle so that no part of you will be touching both your car and the ground at the same time.

  • DO shuffle away from your car, taking small steps and keeping both feet on the ground at all times.

Remember: keeping safe and vigilant is critical in a situation with a downed power line. For tips about safety around overhead powerlines, visit the ESFI’s website or contact your local electric company.

At CMC Electric, our clients’ safety and comfort are our top priorities. All of our services include a free safety inspection, and we ensure our work is completed to the highest standards. For any electrical work you need, give us a call today at (919) 694-4454 or contact us online.

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