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Avoid dangers after a storm

Know what to do if you see a downed power line

KENTUCKY WEATHER can be unpredictable. Many think the danger is over after the storm passes, but the most dangerous time can be during the storm recovery period. 

Keep your distance from downed power lines and know what to do if you see one. 

If you see a downed power line, which could be making contact with tree limbs, vehicles and puddles, always stay clear at least 40 feet, as the ground around the line may be energized up to 35 feet. Avoid walking in water after a storm. 

Assume that all downed lines are live power lines and never attempt to move a line or anything else touching it. There is no way of knowing whether the power line is still live. Large overhead power lines can carry more than 700,000 volts of electricity. Fatalities can occur when someone comes in contact with a live wire of only a couple hundred volts. 

Contact with a power line 

If someone has made contact with a power line, do not try to rescue the person. You can’t help if you become a victim. Immediately call 911 for assistance, and contact your local electric utility to turn off the power. 

If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed power line, stay inside. Call 911 or honk your horn for help, but tell everyone to stay away from the vehicle. 

If you must exit the vehicle for safety reasons, jump clear of the vehicle. Do not let any part of your body or clothing touch the vehicle and ground at the same time. Land with your feet together and shuffle away in small steps or a bunny hop, making sure to keep your feet touching to avoid electric shock. Keep moving away until you are at least 40 feet from the vehicle. 

Downed lines on your property 

If there is a downed power line on your property, do not go near it; assume it is energized and dangerous. Contact your local electric cooperative with specific information on the location of the downed line. Wait until after the co-op crew or emergency officials have confirmed it is safe to clear the debris. 

For power restoration, make sure your electric co-op has your current contact information on file. 

We know firsthand how dangerous electricity is because Kentucky’s electric cooperatives work with it all day, every day. It is no accident that safety is our top priority.

If a power line falls on your vehicle and a fire starts, this column explains how to exit the vehicle safely to avoid possible electric shock. Illustration: NRECA
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