Downed Power Line: How to Deal with a Dangerous Situation

Storms hit Kentucky throughout the year, so it’s always a good idea to know what to do in the event of a downed power line. Fallen lines can still carry a considerable amount of charge and cause injury or even death. So, if you see one, remember these rules.


Stay away


There’s no way to look at a downed line and tell if it’s live. And unfortunately, if the cable is conducting electricity, it can energize surrounding ground up to 35 feet away, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). So, no matter what, stay away from it and anything touching it. Don’t even make contact with a person who is lying on or near the line because the charge could travel to you. 


Shuffle away


If you find yourself too close to a downed line, minimize your risk of electric shock by shuffling away with small steps. Always keep your feet together and on the ground, and avoid stepping in water, as well.


Don’t move it


You shouldn’t try to move a downed power line—even with a tool such as a broom or stick. Nonconductive materials, like wood, can still conduct electricity if they are even slightly wet.


Call 911


A downed power line must be handled by trained professionals. Call 911 as soon as you see one, and keep people, pets, children away.

Be careful in a car


The ESFI says you should never drive over a downed power line. But, if it falls on your car, don’t try to get out. Instead, honk your horn for help and keep others from touching your vehicle. If it catches fire, then jump out with both feet together. Don’t touch the car and the ground at the same time while you exit. Then, shuffle away.


Remember, downed power lines can cause damage to your house and vehicle, so make sure your insurance policies are updated.