Move Over - It's the Law
Your local, member-owned, co-op is proud to say that safety is the top priority at West Florida Electric Cooperative. The safety of our employees and our members is always at the forefront of our minds. It’s because of this that we like to remind you how important it is to stay away from downed power lines, caution you about the use of portable generators, and ask you to move over on the roadways when you
see utility workers.
Severe weather is the most common reason for downed power lines, but they can also be caused by auto accidents or other incidents. What should you do if you come across a fallen power line?
If you have a downed power line on your property as a result of a falling tree, storm or other circumstance, do not go near it. The number one rule you should follow when you see a downed power line is always
assume it is energized. Stay away and stay alive. Coming into contact with an energized line can lead to death or severe injury.When moving away from a downed power line, shuffle your feet close together and maintain contact with the ground. Electricity travels through the ground in all directions after the line falls. Voltage decreases the further away you are from the line. If you run or take large steps, you could conduct electricity from one leg at one voltage to another leg at another voltage, which increases the chance of injury or death. Shuffling is the safest method for “retreating” from a downed power line.
Accidents or other incidents may cause power lines to fall on vehicles or farm equipment. If your car or farm equipment becomes entangled with a power line, the vehicle may become charged with electricity. Anyone exiting the vehicle could come into contact with thousands of volts of electricity from the line. When stepping out of the vehicle, you become part of the electricity’s path. It’s critical to stay inside the vehicle until emergency crews have told you it’s safe to exit the vehicle. If the vehicle is on fire or you must exit for other safety reasons, jump clear of the vehicle. Do not let any part of your body or clothing touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Land with your feet together and shuffle away (as previously described) to avoid electric shock. Keep moving in this manner until you are at least 40 feet from the vehicle. Immediately call 911 to report downed lines to authorities and first responders. Provide a specific address, if possible.
When using portable electric generators it is very important to ensure your generator is the proper size for your home. The deciding factor for properly sizing a generator is determined by the wattage of the items you need to power. Make a list of the things you’d like to run off your generator and then speak to an expert to help determine what size generator fits your needs best. Another thing you should keep in mind when utilizing electric generators is that it should never be connected directly to your home’s wiring without the appropriate transfer switch installed. Improperly connecting a generator can cause “back-feeding” along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line workers making repairs. Back-feeding occurs when a generator is improperly connected to electric wiring. This is a dangerous electric current that can create “hot” power lines during an outage. Linemen who expect the line
to be de-energized could be hurt if this occurs. A good way to avoid back-feeding is to install a double-pole, double-throw transfer switch. It is also very important to make sure your generator is properly grounded and never overloaded. It is best to adhere to all the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and safe operation.
Our linemen often work beside a busy roadway, and that makes an already dangerous job even more hazardous. When approaching a utility vehicle, move over if it is safe to do so, creating
an empty lane buffer. When changing lanes isn’t possible, reduce your speed. Let’s work together to follow the law, pay attention, slow down, move over and stay safe. Remember to slow down and move over.
The Move-over law helps protect utility workers and other emergency responders by requiring motorists to
move over when approaching them. The Move-over law is designed to reduce the number of injuries and
fatalities to utility workers, as well as passing motorists. Thank you for helping keep those that keep your
lights on safe.
For additional information about downed power line safety and generator safety, please visit our website (www.westflorida.coop) or Facebook page for additional information and tips.