Electrical safety is an important issue especially when winter weather comes. Winter is the time of the year that is prone to electrical outages and fallen electrical lines due to strong winds or blizzards. A fallen utility line can cause physical damage to your home and pose potential hazards to people nearby.  

Downed power lines are dangerous and destructive and one thing you could do is review all safety rules with your loved ones, friends, and neighbors. In this article, let us take a closer look into the different ways  

 Avoid Touching the Downed Power Line

Although some people believe that a fallen utility line is no longer alive, there is a high chance that it is otherwise. So do not touch it. Unlike birds, humans are a source of electricity to clamp onto due to our direct connection with the earth. Anything that provides electricity with a new path to the ground is at risk for electric shock. An electrical power line can carry at least 155,000 to 765,000 volts, enough to kill a person who touches it. High-voltage transmission lines are even obvious since they are bigger and located in lesser inhabited and high-elevation areas. 

If a person suffered electrocution after touching a fallen power line, avoid contact with that person. Any object that touches a live wire becomes live as well. The same goes for other objects such as cars and metal equipment.  

 Keep a Safe Distance from the Downed Power Line

Make sure to keep 35 feet away from the fallen power line. Just to give you an idea, this represents the length of a bus or at least three cars. If the power line is live, the ground could be grounded. Consequently, you need to shuffle when you move backward. Do it by making small steps backward while your keep closer to each other. There could be other live wires on the ground, and you want to be careful to not step on them. 

Moreover, keep your pets as far away from the fallen line. Your pet could jump right away to the line out of curiosity and there would be no way to turn back whatever can happen.  

If you’re driving and a line has fallen, stay inside the vehicle. If the ground is wet, it could be energized. Sound the horn and roll down your window to call for help. Warn others of your situation and avoid touching the equipment on the ground as they could be live.  

How to Report It

Remember that when a electrical line goes down, it could still be live. Even if you’ve only sighted it from a far distance, you must contact 911 right away. Wait until you receive further instructions from the fire department, the police, or the electric company.   

If you happen to be around the premises where the utility has fallen and other people have been injured, do not attempt to touch them. High-voltage powerlines can jump or arc up to 18 meters or more. At this point, a person who is exposed to a live power line could be dead in an instant, but the body can still be grounded.  

If the person is still breathing, call 911 and follow instructions on what to do. Stand on an insulating material such as dry wood or rubber. Describe the surrounding scenario as detailed as you can to help authorities visualize your condition. That way, you could be given proper instructions on what to do.  

Related article: Are Utility Grids Ready for Climate Change? 

Safety Rules for Power Outages 

During a severe storm in the winter, follow these rules for safety: 

  • Stay calm 
  • Avoid using candles during a power outage 
  • Use a flashlight or emergency light 
  • Keep extra batteries handy 

Don’t forget to switch off the lights and unplug appliances to avoid short circuits and overloading. But make sure you leave one light on, so you know when the power is back. 

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