Don’t mess with power lines — even if they are downed

Posted on Sep 05 2022 in Bartholomew County REMC
Downed power line

Downed power lines can look relatively harmless, but don’t be fooled. They likely carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death. We have recently had a rash of downed power lines due to trees or vehicle accidents. Broken poles due to vehicle accidents are on the rise. Could it be those mobile devices to blame? Follow these tips can help you stay safe around downed lines:

  • If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything touching it.
  • The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage one — and it could do that through your body.
  • If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 instead.
  • Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even normally non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and electrocute you.
  • Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.
  • Do not drive over downed lines. 

If your car comes in contact with a power line, a state of panic may set in. Try to stay calm and follow these tips:

  • You should remain inside your vehicle. If you are in your car, you are not part of electricity’s path, which always looks for the shortest way to the ground. Honk your horn to alert passersby. 
  • If someone stops to help, roll down the window and warn him/her not to touch the car or the power line. Ask him/her to phone 911 and contact the local electric utility immediately.
  • Wait in your car until qualified electrical workers turn the power off and tell you it’s safe to leave the car.
  • If you have to leave the car because of fire or other danger, open the door and jump away from the vehicle so no part of your body touches the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Make sure to jump with both feet together so that your feet land on the ground at the same time. 
  • After you land with both feet together, shuffle away, keeping both feet in contact with the ground constantly.
  • Do not try to help someone from the vehicle. If you do, you may become a path for electricity and be injured or killed.