4 Steps To Take When You See a Downed Power Line

downed power line

Electrical safety is an important issue and people need to be more aware of what it means and how they can make sure they’re taking all necessary measures. A downed power line represents quite a big hazard, and one of the things you could do is review all safety rules and tips with your loved ones, friends and even neighbors. 

In fact, a power line is usually associated with several dangers, like metallic balloons coming into contact with the lines, causing power outages. This is why you need to keep them at distance and release them outdoors. 

Bad, stormy weather can cause power lines to fall, which can create electrifying wet grass, puddles, or the entire surrounding areas for that matter. If you are exposed to such a phenomenon, the smart thing to do would be to assume that downed power lines are energized and dangerous and stay as far away from them as possible. Keep a distance of at least 35 feet from downed power lines. 

Downed power lines need to be handled correctly, by experts using special equipment and as long as these remain unattended they are dangerous to others. That’s not to say there’s nothing you can do, check out below the four essential steps one needs to take when noticing a downed power line. Keep them in mind if you ever come across one.

1. Avoid Touching The Downed Power Line

Don't touch downed power line

Even though some people may believe that there’s no danger in touching power lines when they’ve fallen, because they are insulated, that is not factually correct. Another reason for which people believe fallen power lines are safe to touch is that birds often perch on them without getting injured. None of these facts is true. 

Unlike humans, birds do not touch the ground, which is why they are safe. Humans are a source for electricity to clamp onto due to their direct connection with the earth. Anything that provides electricity with a new path to the ground is at risk for shock. 

This is actually why downed power lines are dangerous. So, the golden rule for downed power line safety is to keep your distance. Whatever you do, never touch them. For your own safety, as well as those around you, always assume that the downed power line is live and follow the following guidelines: 

  • Avoid touching the fallen downed line both directly with your hand and with any object like a stick, pole or broom. 
  • Avoid touching anyone or anything that was in contact with a downed power line, like a car, equipment or object. 

2. Keep A Safe Distance From The Downed Power Line

Make sure you keep 35 feet between you and the fallen power line. Just to give you an idea, 35 feet represent the length of a bus or three cars. Also, try to avoid moving or investigating a fallen power line and advise others to do the same and return to safety. 

When moving away from a fallen power line, try to shuffle. Make small steps to gradually back away. Always keep your feet on the ground, close together so you won’t attract the electrical current. Also, keep your pets as far away from the downed power line as possible, and avoid driving over it. 

Speaking of cars, if your vehicle should come into contact with a fallen power line, follow the following safety guidelines: 

  • Stay inside the vehicle. The ground around your car may be energized. 
  • Sound the horn and roll down your window to call for help. 
  • Warn others of your situation. Touching the equipment or ground around your vehicle could injure them. 

3. Report It

Remember that when a power line goes down, it could still be live. Because most fall in populated areas, with moving vehicles and people, it is essential that you report it and call for help right away. 

Calling 911 is the first thing you do as soon as you notice a downed power line. And wait until you receive further instructions from the fire department, the police or the electric company, before exiting your car. 

4. Follow Safety Rules When Using Balloons or Working Around Power Lines

flying kite next to a downed power line

When using balloons or toys around power lines, you need to follow specific safety tips. 

  • Make sure that helium-filled metallic balloons are adequately tied to weights. This way, you are preventing them from floating directly into power lines. 
  • Avoid using metallic balloons, kites and remote-control toys close to overhead electric lines, so you won’t cause power outages, fires and serious injuries.
  • In case a balloon or toy is caught in a power line, contact the electrical company immediately. Avoid attempting to recover an object that is located on or close to a power line.

When working near electrical infrastructure, you need to know a few helpful safety tips and keep in mind that there are safety materials for each industry and type of work. For instance, using an auger, directional drill or other similar devices in an existing underground maze of utility lines can be very dangerous. To avoid getting hurt, consider subterranean smarts and safe drilling practices. 

To keep yourself out of harm’s way, you need to remember and follow these safety tips;

  • Point out nearby power lines. 
  • Always keep in mind that overhead lines are energized and possibly dangerous.
  • Keep your distance from overhead power lines and make sure others do the same. 
  • Set boundaries to make sure that a safe distance between you and everyone around you is respected. 
  • Set a spotter to allow you to stay far away from power lines and other safety hazards. 
  • Keep your equipment and any materials you are using at a safe distance from overhead power lines. 

Safety Rules for Power Outages

During a severe storm, you might be faced with fallen power lines. When that happens, electricity might go down. If this happens, here are a few safety rules to keep in mind: 

  • Try to stay calm. 
  • Avoid using candles in a power outage. 
  • Use a flashlight instead and have extra batteries handy. 

Turn off the lights, unplug any appliances and devices to avoid circuit overloading. However, make sure you leave one light on, so you know when the power is back.

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