Downed Power Lines Can Pose Safety Hazards

February 15, 2017

Downed line

Rocky Mountain Power builds its facilities to the highest industry standards, but power lines can still become damaged. Winter weather conditions this time of year can produce high winds, ice on lines and road conditions that cause vehicles to slip and slide – all with the potential to damage power lines. The results can be power outages to customers and conditions that create some safety challenges to nearby individuals.

“The single most important message to the public in these situations is: Stay away and call the power company immediately,” said Mike Felice, Rocky Mountain Power safety director. “It’s impossible to tell if a downed power line is still carrying electricity, so stay clear and keep others, including pets, as far away as possible.”

Felice explains that electricity, by its very nature, is always seeking a path to ground. When a line is damaged and falls to the ground, it’s impossible to know if the electricity is flowing through the line. In addition, other objects have the potential to become part of electricity’s path to ground – a tree, a vehicle or a fence are examples.

“The further away from a downed line the better,” Felice said. “It’s just best to treat any downed line as though it were energized. Immediately call 9-1-1 then call the power company.”

The toll-free number to call Rocky Mountain Power is 1-877-508-5088. Rocky Mountain Power personnel have specialized training and the right equipment to properly deal with the circumstances.

“There’s one exception to this rule,” Felice said. “If an electric line falls on your car and you’re inside the car, stay inside until help arrives. You’re safe from electrical shock as long as you’re inside the vehicle.”

If you must escape from a vehicle because it’s on fire, leap from the open vehicle door keeping both feet together and continue to hop away with both feet together. Take care to never touch the car once you’ve made contact with the ground. Warn others and keep everyone clear of the vehicle until power company officials arrive.

Learn more about electric safety »

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