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Power pole and lines on top of vehicle

We all think it will never happen to us, but it can, and in an instant.

Drivers veer off the road and run into a power pole. Farmers sometimes make contact with a power line while driving tractors or other machinery. Dump or feed truck drivers raise or lower their bed and snag a power line.

People can become dangerously close or enter electricity’s path. Knowing what to do in that situation can save your life. Incidents with power lines or other utility equipment break the electrical current’s usual path. This can make the ground, vehicles and other equipment electrified.

If you hit a power pole, pad-mounted transformer (“green box”) or other electrical equipment, DO NOT get out of the vehicle or cab. Instead, call 9-1-1 and wait for utility crews to come and de-energize power. Here are some examples; in all instances, call 9-1-1:

  • Your tractor or car strikes a guy wire (guy wires are the wires staked into the ground that stabilize utility poles). Under normal conditions, the guy wire is neutral, but if the wire is weakened, pulled out of the ground or otherwise damaged, it could become energized.
  • Your hit a patch of ice and go off the road and hit a utility pole. Or you are in a car accident and one of the vehicles strikes a power pole. Only get out of the car if there is smoke or a fire; otherwise, stay put. If there a fire, make a clean jump or hop from your car or truck (without touching it), and hop with your feet together or shuffle keeping your feet on the ground at least 30 feet to safety. Think of the downed line sending electrical current across the ground in a ripple-like effect. Each ring of the ripple represents a different voltage. If you step from one ring to another, this is called step potential and it can electrocute you.
  • You see an accident that involves a downed power line. DO NOT approach the scene.
  • You hit a pad-mounted transformer or other type of electrical box.
  • Your vehicle hits a substation.
  • You ran off the road, hit a pole and it’s dark out, but YOU DON’T KNOW if lines are down.

Other situations

  • You get something stuck in power lines (drone or remote-control device): Do not try to retrieve it.
  • You see kids climbing or sitting on pad-mounted transformers: Tell them not to sit or play on it.
  • You are carrying a tall ladder or pole: Look up for power line locations and keep at least a 10-foot clearance at all times.
  • You see kids climb trees that have power lines above: Warn them not to climb trees near power lines.
  • You are using a portable generator: Never plug it into a wall outlet. This can cause backfeeding into the line and kill a lineworker or neighbor.

More information

 Source: SafeElectricity.org