Would you know what to do if your car crashed into a utility pole? Knowing what to do can be the difference between life and death. Let’s test your knowledge. If you were involved in an accident with a power pole and a power line fell across your car, what is the best thing to do?
A) Exit the car to safety.
B) Stay inside the car.
What was your answer? A or B? Most people we encounter during safety demonstrations for the co-op do not know the right answer. If you said “B” stay inside the car, then you were right. Many adults, teenagers and children believe the best thing to do is to exit the car. Let us explain why you should not do that.
Our instincts tell us to flee danger, but in vehicle accidents that bring down power lines, these natural inclinations can lead to tragic results. If you hit a power pole bringing a line down on you, stay in your vehicle, call 911 and wait until the local electric utility arrives on the scene to ensure the lines have been de-energized, allowing you to safely exit the vehicle. It might also be a good idea to honk your horn to summon help.
Staying inside the vehicle is the safest option because the vehicle itself will act as a path for the electrical current to travel to reach the ground. You are safe inside the vehicle, but if you get out you could get shocked or electrocuted.
Always remember that you cannot tell if a line is energized just by looking at it. You should treat each and every power line as if it is energized and dangerous until utility crews arrive on the scene. If you come upon or witness an accident involving toppled power poles and lines, don’t leave your vehicle to approach the area. Stay far away and keep others away as well. 78890009
There is one exception to the rule about staying inside your vehicle and that involves a fire. If you are inside a vehicle with a downed power line on it and it catches on fire, then you must get out. Let us explain how to safely exit your vehicle if this occurs.
1) Jump out of the vehicle and make sure no part of your bodytouches the ground and the vehicle at the same time.
2) Make sure you land with both feet together and in small,shuffling steps, move at least 40 feet away from the vehicle.
3) Remember that the ground can be energized, so shuffling away with both feet together decreases your risk of electrical shock.
Car accidents are not the only thing that could cause a power line to fall. Trees and limbs falling onto lines could also cause them to fall across the road or in your yard. If you see a downed power line, move away from it and anything that might be touching it. Remember, the ground around a downed line could be energized. Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything else in contact with it by using an object such as a broom handle or stick. Even 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 and absolutely never drive over downed power lines. If you have questions about how to stay safe around electricity, visit our website (westflorida.coop) or call the office to set up an electrical safety demonstration for your classroom, group or organization.