Assume a Downed Line is Deadly

Sagging power lines from heavy snow

Overhead power lines carry thousands of volts of electricity. Always assume a power line is energized and dangerous. This is true even if a winter storm has taken the line down and the power is out in your area. Touching or getting near a live power line injures and kills.

Power lines can come down or sag close to the ground for a few reasons: severe weather or damage due to a car accident, for instance. And a downed line isn’t always visible. After severe weather, lines can lurk underneath snow, tree limbs or other debris.

Stay clear of all types of utility lines. Even if you think lines might be designated for telephone or cable service, they may have contact with damaged and energized power lines nearby. Take note of these additional reminders:

• Power lines do not have to be arcing or sparking or making a humming noise to be live.
• Any power line that is dead could become energized at any moment due to power restoration or back feed from backup generators.
• Do not attempt to move a downed line or anything it is touching with another object, such as a stick or pole. Even materials that don’t normally conduct electricity can do so if they are slightly wet.
• Do not step in water or walk in debris near a downed power line.
• Stay at least 10 feet away from the downed power line.
• Do not attempt to drive over a downed power line.
• Always consider all lines, regardless of the type, energized at deadly voltages.