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Watch for downed power lines after a storm 

WE RECOGNIZE ELECTRICAL SAFETY MONTH EVERY MAY, but we also know the importance of practicing safety year-round. During severe storm season, those safety practices are especially relevant. Share them with your family and children. 

Storm dangers are obvious, but sometimes danger can come during the storm recovery period. Keeping your distance from downed power lines, and knowing what to do if you see one, are the first steps when recovering safely from a storm. 

If you see a downed line, which could be contacting tree limbs, vehicles and puddles, always stay about 40 feet away. Move away from it and anything touching it. There is no way of knowing whether it is a power line or if it is still live, and if you happen to touch one that is, consequences could be deadly. Assume all lines are power lines and 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. 

Do’s and don’ts 

During the storm recovery process, downed power lines are a threat to the area around them. Here are some additional safety tips to help you stay safe around downed power lines. 

  • Don’t try to rescue anyone who has already contacted a power line; you can’t help if you become a victim. Immediately call 911 for assistance, and then contact your local electric utility to turn off the power. 
  • Never try to move a downed power line or anything else in contact with it using an object such as a broom or stick. Nonconductive materials like wood or cloth can conduct electricity if slightly wet. 
  • Don’t step in water near downed lines. 
  • Never drive over a downed power line. 

Remember, life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning the safety precautions to take once it’s gone. 

STEVEN WATERS is the Safety and Compliance Coordinator at Meade County RECC. 

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