If power lines fall on your car, assume that the downed power lines are live. Also, do you know what you should do if you encounter downed power lines while driving?
In this post, our Abbotsford electricians offer 10 downed power line safety tips to help keep you and those you love away from harm.
About Power Line Electrical Fields
Downed live electrical wires are extremely dangerous.
That’s because a voltage gradient is created on the surface of the ground. This gradient (or field of electricity) develops between the point of contact where the power line and the ground meet. It continues for some distance until the voltage dissipates to nothing. The effect is similar to ripples in a pond (created when a stone is thrown in).
If the electric power lines fall on your car and becomes “grounded” your vehicle will become live as well, with the same amount of voltage as the electricity that tries to pass through your car and into the ground. As a result, that electrical field can be quite dangerous.
If your car comes into contact with electrical wires, remain calm and do not exit the vehicle. If possible, slowly drive away from (and break contact with) the downed electrical wires.
Downed Power Line Safety Tips
If driving away isn’t possible, here are 10 critical steps you need to take to keep yourself safe:
- Treat all power lines as if they were live…even if you suspect they are not live. Remain in your car until help arrives and the electrical crew can safely remove the powerlines from you car.
- If you see others approaching, and if possible, warn them to stay back at least 10 meters (30 – 35 feet).
- If you have a mobile phone, call 911 and/or text “Hydro” (49376) and give BC Hydro your location.
- Emergency evacuation (due to a fire or other circumstance) should only be attempted as a last resort.
- If you must escape, you cannot have contact with the car or the ground at the same time.
- If escape is necessary, you must JUMP with feet tightly together (do not walk away from the car) and jump as many times as necessary to move safely away from the vehicle.
- Tires can explode so stay away from tires as you jump away.
- Once you are safely away, do not go back to the vehicle for any reason.
- If you come across others trapped in their car by power lines do NOT attempt to rescue them. If possible, keep your distance and share this knowledge in an effort to keep them from harm.
Remember, if you try to walk or run away from you vehicle due to downed power lines, your feet and legs can act as a span between areas of differing voltages. This can form a circuit through your body and could result in severe electrical shock or death.
Also, exploding tires can be a hazard within the first 24 hours following contact with power lines so be sure to have your vehicle inspected before use.
About Premium Electric
For more information on downed power lines and electrical safety or if you have an electrical problem, please call our electricians in Abbotford at 1-604-308-6195 or send us an email. We offer a full range of electrical services for both commercial and residential customers.
Premium Electric services the following Fraser Valley communities: Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Aldergrove, Langley, and Maple Ridge.