Stronger poles and wires and more comprehensive tree clearing are making our power grid more resistant than ever to storms, but lines occasionally come down when the weather turns nasty.
Wires also can fall when poles are hit in traffic accidents.
The first thing to do about any downed power line is to stay away from that wire and anything touching it. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, the ground around power lines may be energized up to 35 feet away. That’s more than 10 yards on a football field.
You can’t tell if a wire is live, or energized, just by looking at it. Assume all downed lines are live, no matter how they appear. Receiving an electrical shock can be deadly.
Some other downed wire safety tips from ESFi include:
- Don’t try to move a downed power line or anything else in contact with it by using another object such as a broom or stick. Non-conductive materials like wood or cloth can conduct electricity if even slightly wet.
- Be careful not to touch or step in water near a downed power line.
- Do not drive over downed power lines.
- If your car comes in contact with a downed power line while you are inside, stay in the car. Honk your horn to summon help, but direct others to stay away from your car. If you must leave your car because it’s on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with both the car and the ground at the same time. Shuffle away from the car.
Mother Nature’s electrical fireworks can be deadly. Nearly 50 people are killed by lightning each year in the U.S. and hundreds more are severely injured.
Courtesy of the National Weather Service, check out a few lightning myths and facts to stay safe:
MYTH: If trapped outside during a lightning storm, lie flat on the ground.
FACT: Lying flat just increases your chance of getting hit by potentially deadly ground current. Keep moving toward a safe shelter.
MYTH: If there is no rain or clouds, you’re safe from lightning.
FACT: Lightning has a long reach. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from a thunderstorm.
MYTH: A lightning victim is electrified and you risk electrocution if you touch them.
FACT: The body does not store electricity and it’s perfectly safe to give first aid. Don’t be afraid to come to their aid. You could save a victim’s life.
For more electrical safety tips, visit pplelectric.com/safety.
(Pictured above: A little bit of Hurricane Sandy’s storm damage, fall 2012.)
Hurricanes. They’re a drink in New Orleans, a college team in Miami, and a seasonal hazard all up and down the East Coast, especially starting this time of year.
The peak of activity for the Atlantic hurricane season usually takes place from mid-August to late October. These damaging storms don’t come this way too often, but when they do, they can cause a lot of problems.
September is National Preparedness Month, and that’s a worthy event. Still, you don’t have to wait until then to make sure you are ready for anything that might arise.
Take a look at our Project Envolve post for guidance on how to prepare a family plan that can help keep everyone safe and on the same page during a storm or other emergency.
As for us, we’re constantly monitoring the weather. If a serious storm threatens our service area, we’ll act well ahead of time to make repair crews and resources available to respond.
Take time to make a family emergency plan, prepare supplies and think about what you’d do if a major storm threatened your area. A little preparation today could make a big difference down the road.