In almost all occupations, electrical hazards exist in some form.  Those hazards are multiplied for workers involved in cleanup and recovery efforts following major disasters.  A particular life-threatening danger exists around downed and low-hanging electrical wires caused from high winds, ice storms, or other weather-related troubles.

Some Safety Tips:

  • First, contact appropriate utility personnel.
  • Do not assume that a downed conductor is safe simply because it is on the ground, or not sparking.  Always consider all equipment, lines and conductors to be energized.
  • The circuits don’t always turn off when a power line falls into a tree or on the ground.  These downed power lines can kill you if you touch them, or the ground nearby.
  • Low-hanging wires still have voltage potential even if they aren’t touching the ground.
  • Never go near a downed or fallen electric power line.  Always assume that it is energized.  Fences, water pipes, bushes and trees, buildings, telephone/fiber optic cables, aluminum roofs, siding, sheds, etc., can also be energized by downed wires.
  • Some sources that create electrical backfeed are: circuit ties/switch points, lightning, generators, and downstream events.
  • Remember that electricity can travel away from its source.
  • Don’t touch anything that is touching the wire.
  • Never touch a person injured by a downed power line. Call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in your car, stay inside and use a cell phone for help.  Do not touch the outside of the car.
  • Finally, never drive over downed power lines.