Five Safety Tips to Deal with a Downed Power Line

A downed power line is a major safety hazard, but it’s one of those things that is pretty much unavoidable. Suspended power lines are some of the most common electrical transmission equipment found across the country, and it isn’t uncommon for these lines to carry tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of volts over long distances. Any suspended line has the chance to come down, and they can cause some serious destruction when they do. Do you know what to do when a power line does come down?

Here are five important safety tips for dealing with a downed power line. Who knows; one of them might save your life one day!

Move Away from the Line Right Away

When a power line falls, the first thing you should do is get away from the line as soon as possible. A downed power line can energize the ground around it as far as 35 feet away, so getting out of the immediate vicinity is important for avoiding injury or potentially death. However, you should always move away from a downed power line slowly and deliberately. Shuffle away from it by taking small steps while keeping your feet together and on the ground. Keeping your feet on the ground at all times prevents you from breaking connection and thus reduces the chances of an electric shock. Likewise, do not touch anything while moving away from the downed line until you have reached a suitable distance.

Assume All Downed Lines Are Live

When the electric company learns of a downed power line, they immediately shut off power to the area. However, they often don’t learn of a downed line for at least several minutes after the line actually falls. That means there is a good amount of time where the line may be on the ground and live with tens of thousands of volts of electricity. Is the line live or dead? Don’t take the risk and don’t find out for yourself—assume the line is live and treat it as such. Stay away from the downed line and call for help as soon as possible.

Do Not Step in Any Water Near a Downed Power Line

Remember how we said that a downed power line can energize the ground for up to 35 feet around itself? That range can extend even further if the ground is wet, and a wet ground could be the avenue through which electricity travels for its path of least resistance. Thus, something as simple as stepping in a puddle or even over a wet lawn in the area around a downed power line could be a fatal mistake. If you have a downed power line around you, avoid all wet ground as much as possible. Move away from any area that could even be damp by following the advice above: keep one foot on the ground at all times and shuffle away slowly.

Do Not Drive Over a Downed Line

A downed power line may seem like it’s no big deal for your car. After all, rubber is a great insulating material, and big beefy tires made from rubber should be able to protect you from any risk of an electric shock. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Tires are not always as protective as they might seem, and running over a line could cause it to jump and make contact with the body of your car. When it does, you could be at risk for serious injury or even death.

There’s a good chance you will know if you have run over a downed power line—the sudden surge of power through your car will probably cause major electrical issues, including potentially causing your car to shut down completely. If your car comes in contact with a downed line in any way (either by running one over or by one falling on your vehicle) then honk your horn to summon help but warn others to stay away from your car and the immediate area. They may not be aware of the danger posed by the downed line.

Do Not Attempt to Move a Downed Line; Call 911

Finally, do not attempt to move a downed power line on your own. With how much energy flows through the average line, any contact at all could be a potentially dangerous and even fatal mistake. Therefore, it should only be left in the hands of trained professionals who have the equipment and training to work with this kind of equipment directly. Fortunately, reaching them is fairly easy.

A downed power line is considered an acceptable use of 911 emergency services, and everyone is encouraged to call right away in the event of a downed line. Operators are trained to notify electrical providers of the location of the downed line, and this allows your provider to take action and swiftly shut down the impacted area as soon as possible. In most cases, this can be done remotely. From there, they can scramble an emergency crew to come out to the area and fix the problem properly before turning the power back on again.

Stay safe around downed power lines! If your home has an electrical issue, call the pros at Lightning Bug Electric at (404) 471-3847 today.