Friday, March 18, 2016

Downed lines and vehicles: Do you know what to do?

 After an accident, many drivers want to exit their vehicles to check out the damage; however, if your vehicle has come in contact with a power line, that is the last thing you should do.

Stay inside your vehicle. Call 911 and We Energies to report the accident and the downed line. Do not exit your vehicle until rescue workers say it is safe to leave. Warn onlookers to stay away from your vehicle, because they could be at risk of being shocked by a downed line.

Vehicle struck a pole in the town of Barton, near West Bend, WI
Recently, we responded to an accident near the city of West Bend, Wisconsin, in which an inattentive driver lost control of her vehicle and struck a power pole. The power pole was snapped in half, bringing down power and communication lines. The power line was energized.

Overhead power lines can carry more than 500,000 volts. Touching one of the lines can provide a path for electricity to the ground and hurt or kill you. Always assume all lines are energized and dangerous. They may not spark, hum or “dance.” Stay away from anything touching the lines, such as your vehicle, a fence or a tree.

When a live wire touches the ground, electricity travels though the ground in all directions. When the live wire is touching the ground, voltage decreases as distance from the wire increases. If you run or take large steps, you could conduct electricity from one leg at one voltage to another leg at another voltage, this could result in a shock in the ground is energized

If your vehicle contacts a power line, stay inside until rescue workers say it is safe to leave. If you MUST leave your vehicle because of fire or other danger, JUMP away from the vehicle so that you do not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Then, land with your feet together and proceed to shuffle away.

The driver in the recent West Bend accident was not injured.

Nearly 1,000 customers lost power after the accident occurred. All but 20 customers had power restored after 15 minutes of our arrival to the scene. The remaining 20 customers were restored after the pole was replaced and the wires were re-strung.

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