Downed Power Lines
Electricity powers nearly every
aspect of our lives – our homes run on electricity, and it becomes so familiar
that we can forget how dangerous it can be. High winds associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms or blizzards can all bring down power
Sometimes people drive into light poles, and sometimes branches simply break
off and pull the lines down. Ice storms are especially destructive to
electric lines, and most of us have seen pictures of lines drooping down to the
ground with ice hanging from them. Make sure to always have a car kit on hand in case of a vehicle emergency but remember also to never go near a downed power line whether or not it looks dead. This goes for anything that looks like it could be touching the line as conductors can also cause harm if the object is touching you and a live line.
A Downed Line Dead?
You should never assume that a downed power line is dead. While some live
lines will emit hissing or buzzing sounds, some that are still conducting
electricity will be silent. If you see a downed line, stay away from it,
the closer you go, the greater the chance that you will be electrocuted.
Sometimes, a line can come down near you while you are outside. This is a
very serious situation, as the line will be shooting electric current into the
ground for some distance. Do not run away, there is a good chance that
you will be electrocuted, for if you have two points touching the ground – in
this case your feet – you will be completing a circuit. Bring your feet
together instantly, you will only be one ‘terminal’ instead of two. You
can try to leave the area, but you must either hop, keeping your feet together,
or inch away taking very small, sliding steps that keep your feet touching one
When In Your Car
The first thing to remember when driving is to never drive over a downed power
line. If you are trying to get home or to work, reverse course and try to
find another way. Likewise, do not drive through standing water that has
a downed line in it, even if the line is some distance away. Live or dead
lines can become entangled in your car’s wheels, and water conducts electricity
very well. If a line falls on your car, the best thing to do is to stay
where you are until help arrives. This would be especially important if
your car has stalled out in water.
However, there may be times when you might have to leave your car, regardless
of the downed line on it – if the car was on fire, for instance. In this
case, you will have to jump from the car and land without touching any part of
the vehicle. Do not simply step out of the car as you ordinarily would –
you will complete the circuit that way.
Our first instinct, when we see someone being electrocuted on a downed power
line is to try to go to their rescue. Unfortunately, this is an excellent
way to end up getting electrocuted yourself. Even if you try to pry them
away with a non-conductive piece of wood, if it is even damp, the current can
travel up to you. The only realistic thing that you can do is to call 911
and wait for emergency personnel to arrive and provide help. Till then make sure to have a small kit in your car with some emergency food and first aid supplies in case any injuries occur.