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Stay safe around downed power lines

Downed power lines are downright dangerous. A high-voltage power line carries an electric current strong enough to cause serious, or even fatal, injury.   

That’s why it’s important to know what to do if a power line goes down in extreme weather or an accident. Your reaction can be the difference between life and death.  

If you come across a low or fallen line, use the following tips to keep yourself safe.

Know what to look for

Always assume any power line is fully charged and lethal to the touch. If you see any wires or cables on the ground after a storm (or anytime for that matter), do not touch them. 

Stay away and call 911

After a monsoon storm passes through, it’s natural to want to inspect the damage. If you see a downed or sagging line, however, don’t let your curiosity take over.

Keep a safe distance from power lines and call 911.

Stay 100 feet away

When a live wire touches the ground, electricity fans out and energizes the area. To keep yourself from getting shocked or worse, stay back at least 100 feet, which is about the length of two semitrucks.  

You should stay even farther away during rainy conditions, as water can become energized. 

Assume all downed power lines are live

You can’t tell if a line is energized just by looking at it. Assume it’s live and dangerous, even if the line isn’t sparking, humming or “dancing.”  

Don’t touch anything near a downed power line

If for some reason you do find yourself near a downed power line, don’t touch anything in contact with or near it. That includes debris, trees, tree limbs, cars, ladders and people.  

The electrical current can travel through both conductive and non-conductive materials, along the ground, through water and even through people. You could be shocked through contact with a secondary object or a person.  

The only thing you should be touching at this point is your cellphone to call 911.

Shuffle (don’t walk) away

If you happen to come across a downed power line, the safest way to put distance between you and the downed line is to shuffle away.  

Make sure to keep both feet on the ground at all times. Although it may look funny, it will minimize your chances of getting shocked. 

Once you’ve reached a safe distance away from the power line, call 911.

Protect your little ones

If a storm or accident leads to downed power lines, make sure you know where your children and pets are so you can keep them far from fallen lines.  

This includes staying away from places like your backyard, recreational fields and even puddles, as water can become energized if it comes into contact with electricity. 

What to do if a line falls on your car

You should never drive over downed power lines or through water that’s in contact with them. However, accidents happen.  

Here’s what to do if a power line falls on your car while you’re in it:

  • Call 911 and remain in your car until help arrives, unless it becomes unsafe (think water, smoke or flames).  
  • If you must leave, avoid making contact with the vehicle and ground at the same time.  
  • To exit, jump from your vehicle and land with both feet together.   
  • Shuffle or hop away, keeping both feet in contact with each other until you are at least 100 feet from the vehicle. If you run, your legs may bridge current from areas of high and low voltage, resulting in electrical shock.  

First responders

When power lines go down, SRP crews are often the first to arrive on the scene. We will de-energize lines as safely and quickly as possible to increase the safety of other first responders, including firefighters and police officers, as well as anyone impacted by the downed lines and those in the surrounding area. 

By calling 911 as soon as you discover a downed power line, you are helping alert all first responders, including SRP crew members, of the location and situation. 

Are you prepared for storm season?

We need your help to keep objects from blowing into power lines and causing outages.

4 thoughts on “Stay safe around downed power lines”

  1. I’m considering buying the property at 2045 E. Foothill St, Apache Junction, AZ and I noticed there is a power line touching the ground.

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