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.