If you are a driver, you probably feel that you are pretty well-versed when it comes to road safety. Between other drivers and the surrounding environment, there are plenty of things to be wary of when you're driving. One eventuality that might catch you by surprise is a falling power line, and it is important to know what to do in that situation.
Power lines can often fall during or after a storm or periods of strong winds. These high voltage lines can pose a huge risk to drivers and pedestrians alike and have the potential to be fatal. By remembering the following tips, you can ensure your own safety and the safety of others in the event of a fallen power line.
Stay Calm: Don't Make Any Rash Decisions
Your first instinct when a live power cable touches your car is likely going to be one of panic. That's completely understandable, but it's important not to act quickly out of fear. Stay calm and assess the situation.
The most important decision that you will have to make is whether or not it is safe for you to remain in the car. Upon impact with the car, the cable will electrify the car's body. This means that it is crucial that you do not touch any metal part of the car. Doing so could result in electrocution.
The first thing that you need to do is call emergency services. They will guide you on how to proceed, and offer their advice on whether or not you should remain in your vehicle. If you cannot for whatever reason reach them by phone, then consider the following:
If the car is not on fire, remain in the vehicle. Call for help on your phone, or call out to any bystanders. Warn the bystanders not to come within 50 feet (15 meters) of the car or the power line, as the ground in the surrounding area is likely electrified too.
If you can see flames or even smoke, you will need to exit the car. Stay calm and collected, and follow these steps for safely exiting the vehicle.
Exit Safely: Tuck, Jump, Shuffle
Leaving the car when it has been struck with an electrical cable is extremely dangerous, so it is very important that you only exit if it is absolutely necessary. If you are traveling with passengers, make sure that you do not panic and attempt to hastily exit the vehicle. To ensure safety when exiting, you must follow these steps:
Exercise extreme caution while moving around within the vehicle, and don't touch any of the metal components of your car. Any plastic parts of the car will be safe to touch, but the metal is likely electrified and could shock you. Taking extreme care, open your car door and push it wide open.
Edge your way to the doorframe, taking care not to touch off any of the surrounding metalwork of the car. Tuck your arms in and cross them over your chest. Try to keep yourself as compact as possible to avoid any part of your body touching off the car as you exit.
Once you have tucked in your arms and prepared yourself, you will need to jump out of the vehicle. It is crucial that both your feet land on the ground at the same time. If one foot hits the ground (a low voltage area) while the other is still touching the car (a high voltage area), your body will become a conductor for the electricity and you will be electrocuted.
Keep your knees bent and make sure you jump cleanly from the vehicle, rather than sliding yourself from your seat. Again, if your legs connect to the ground while your body is still touching the car, you run the risk of being electrocuted.
Once you are outside the car, it is important to note that you are not entirely safe yet. The ground around you is still electrified within a 50-foot radius. To avoid any potential shocks, keep your feet close together and shuffle until you are clear from the electrified zone.
Make sure that both your feet are touching the ground at all times while you shuffle. Alternatively, you could hop away, taking care to ensure that both feet land at the same time as you hop.
If you experience any tingling sensations in your feet or legs, continue to move away from the site until the sensations stop.
What Happens Next: Warning Others and Reporting the Incident
Once you are clear of the electrified site, it is important to look for help. Not only will you want to seek help for your own sake, but also to prevent any further accidents or injuries on the road.
Seek out any bystanders or locals and inform them of the fallen power line. If you are without a phone or your phone cannot be used, ask them to call the police. The police will ensure that the area is kept clear until the lines can be fixed by a professional, and the surrounding area is officially declared safe.
While you wait for police to arrive, warn pedestrians against approaching within 50 feet of the site. When the authorities arrive, you may have to give a brief account of your experience and give them an approximate location of the fallen power line.
Other Circumstances: What to be Aware Of
In the event that you notice a power line that has fallen in the water, do not approach it or drive through the water. It is common during heavy storms for power lines to fall, and for rainwater to collect or flood along the road. These instances are especially hazardous, and you'd be wise to steer clear from the area.
Simply inform the authorities and give them the location of the fallen line. They will take care of the rest.
Should you come across someone else whose car was struck by a power line, stay 50 feet away from the site and call the authorities. If you can communicate with the driver and passengers, instruct them to stay in their vehicle until help arrives. If their car appears to be on fire, instruct them on the proper procedure for exiting the vehicle.
As always, calling for help should be your number one priority in these situations. In the unlikely event that help cannot be reached or is delayed, exercise extreme caution in getting away to safety. These simple tips on what to do in the event of a fallen power line hitting your car could well save your life, or the lives of others.