Wires installed on utility poles carry electricity. And when wires are down, they are dangerous—electricity can still flow through them.
Never assume that a downed power line is not energized, as it still could be “live.”
- Stay at least 300 feet away from all downed wires—and keep others from going near them as well. Call police or fire department immediately.
- Any wire on the ground or hanging from a pole must be considered live. Telephone and cable TV wires may be entangled with electric wires and must also be treated as live.
- Be especially careful when driving or parking a vehicle near downed wires. If downed wires are in the street, near the curb, or on the sidewalk, use extreme caution. Never drive over downed power lines. Even if not energized, they can become entangled in your vehicle.
- In the event that a wire comes down on a vehicle with passengers, our advice is to stay in the vehicle until professional help arrives to safely remove you from the vehicle. If you MUST get out of the vehicle because of fire or other life-threatening hazards, jump clear of the vehicle so that you do not touch any part of the car and the ground at the same time. Jump as far as possible away from the vehicle with both feet landing on the ground at the same time. Once you clear the vehicle, shuffle away, with both feet on the ground, or hop away, with both feet landing on the ground at the same time. Do not run away from the vehicle as the electricity forms rings of different voltages. Running may cause your legs to “bridge” current from a higher ring to a lower voltage ring. This could result in a shock. Get a safe distance away.
- Never use water on an electric fire, burning vehicle or wire, or extend a pole or stick that can create a path through which the electricity can travel. Our human instinct is to reach out to help, but touching an individual who has been energized also provides a path through which electricity can travel. Call 911 for help immediately.
- Do not attempt to cut or remove a tree that is, or could become, entangled with power lines. Contact your electric utility provider for assistance and wait for a professional tree removal crew to do the job.
- Look up! Always examine your surroundings for power line locations before doing any outside work.
- Do not throw objects up into power lines, as this can cause short circuits that could result in injuries. This includes items you might not consider conductive, such as ropes and strings.
- Teach children never to play around electric equipment and never to touch power lines. They could be seriously injured or killed if they touch live electrical equipment.