When taking a walk after a major storm, you see a downed power line in a puddle of water. Do you know what to do? You just witnessed a vehicle lose control and hit a utility pole. Do you approach those in the vehicle? Electrical power line hazards could lead to severe injury or death. Thankfully, professionals — like those at PLH Group — perform hazardous work on or near electrical power lines every day and understand the health and safety precautions needed to keep us all safe in situations when power lines fall.
PLH Group is a full-service power line construction, pipeline construction and specialty contractor that serves the electric power line, pipeline, oil field electrical and industrial markets. Nine of its 11 entities — Air2, Auger Services, Edison Power Constructors, Power Line Services, R.B. Hinkle, Sun-Electric, TESSCO Energy, TESSCO Industrial, and TTR Substations work directly with electrical power lines. These workers have not only successfully completed specialized training and earned necessary certifications prior to performing work near and on power lines, but have also displayed a thorough understanding of the health and safety hazards and preventative measures associated with the work. Therefore, take advice from PLH Group professionals on how to stay safe around downed power lines.
Assume the line is live. A 35-foot radius surrounding the line could be energized. Therefore, stay away from the downed line. Do not try to touch it with your hand, stick, or other object.
Call 9-1-1. Alert professionals of the downed line and ensure no one approaches the area until help arrives.
IF A DOWNED LINE FALLS ON YOUR VEHICLE, AND THERE IS NO SIGN OF SMOKE OR FIRE…
If your vehicle comes in contact with a power line or utility pole, remain in your vehicle as long as you do not see smoke or fire.
Ensure others keep a 35-foot distance from the incident.
Call 9-1-1. Wait in the vehicle until professional help arrives. Trained first responders will instruct you on how to safely exit the vehicle.
IF A DOWNED LINE FALLS ON YOUR VEHICLE AND YOU SEE SMOKE OR FIRE…
Avoid touch potential. In this scenario, touch potential is the flow of energy from the vehicle through you as you exit the vehicle. To minimize the risk of touch potential, jump both feet from the vehicle at the same time. Avoid having any contact with the vehicle while having contact with the ground.
Avoid step potential. Step potential is the flow of energy up one foot and down the other as you walk away from the scene. To avoid this, do not lift your feet from the ground. Instead, shuffle your feet until you are a safe distance away.
Call 9-1-1. Call or have someone else call for emergency assistance.
ADDITIONAL SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS…
Never drive over downed power lines. Assuming the lines are live, this could insert you into a hazardous situation.
If you see someone who has come in contact with a downed power line or within a 35-foot radius of the line, do not touch the person. Instead, call 9-1-1, and wait at a safe distance until emergency response arrives.
Because water can conduct electricity, do not touch water near a downed line. This is especially important to remember after major storms.
This video illustrates how these principles help mitigate a potentially life-threatening situation. Share these tips with your family and coworkers, reminding them of the importance of awareness and understanding when in a situation with a downed power line.