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Downed Power Lines


Downed power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or even death. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage zone—and it could do that through your body.

Safety Tips

  • If you see a downed power line, move away from it and anything touching it. The ground around power lines—up to 35 feet away—may be energized.
  • You cannot tell whether or not a power line is energized just by looking at it. You should assume that all downed power lines are live.
  • The proper way to move away from the power line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock.
  • If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 for help.
  • Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything else in contact with it by using an object such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, can conduct electricity if even slightly wet.
  • Be careful not to touch or step in water near where a downed power line is located.
  • Do not drive over downed power lines.
  • If your car comes in contact with a downed power line while you are inside, stay in the car. Honk your horn to summon help, but direct others to stay away from your car.
  • If you must leave your car because it is on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with both the car and the ground at the same time. Shuffle away from the car.

This information provided by:

Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)
2900 Crystal Drive, Suite 500, Arlington, VA 22202
703-841-3229 • www.esfi.org