Severe storms, lightning, tornadoes and straight-line winds made it a challenge to keep the lights on this past week. Hunkering down for the storm is one thing. Staying safe afterwards requires attention, too.
A big safety rule: “Stay away from downed power lines. Always assume a power line is energized and dangerous, even when power is out in that area.” That is from SC Living magazine from South Carolina co-ops.
There are more than power lines that can be on poles. So the suggestion is more than, “stay away from power lines.” Just stay away from downed lines of any kind.
The SC Living article says, “If you see a downed power line:
- Move at least 50 feet away from the line and away from anything touching it. Call 911 immediately. Electricity from a live wire touching the ground can radiate outward, making the area unsafe around that point of contact.
- The best way to move away is to shuffle with small steps, keeping both feet together and on the ground at all times. This minimizes the potential for a strong electric shock.”
SC Living magazine continues, “If someone or something is touching the line:
- Anything touching the line can be a conductor of electricity, including the human body. Don’t touch anyone or anything that is in contact with a power line. That could make you the next victim.
- Also, don’t attempt to move anything that is touching the line by using another object, such as a broom or a stick. Even materials that are normally nonconductive can, if they are slightly wet, conduct electricity and electrocute you.”
See the SC Living article for all its advice.
Downed power lines are obviously serious business. Here’s a vivid example. Cypress Pointe Fire and Rescue, northwest of Fayetteville, NC, posted a video of an electric power line catching on fire after a tree fell on it near Cameron, NC. This wasn’t last week, though, it was the results Hurricane Florence. (Story on Myrtle Beach Online)
Another source to electric safety information is at the Electrical Safety Foundation International website. All kinds of resources there. Including a page of general overhead line safety. ESFI reinforces to consider all lines to be live and dangerous.
Again: There are more than power lines that can be on poles. So the suggestion is more than “stay away from power lines.” Just stay away from downed lines of any kind. Be cautious. Be safe.