It is that time of the year, the rains are here again. As we acclimatize to the rainy season, we should take safety measures to avoid hazards. Rains can be accompanied with thunderstorms which can pull down power lines around us and can result in dangerous situations. Downed powerlines are dangerous and still very much energized. It is not okay to go around downed powerlines; they can cause a fire or electrocution when touched.
There is a popular assumption that fallen powerlines are de-energized, but the truth is you don’t have to touch a fallen powerline to be electrocuted. Electricity always goes to the ground and can reach you through the ground if you get too close to a fallen powerline. Another wrong assumption people believe is that it is okay to drive over fallen powerlines because of the rubber in the car tires. To some extent, this is true but it is better to stay inside the car, and not attempt to drive away. The fallen powerline can become entangled in the car’s wheel and could cause you to pull down the pole which is much more dangerous.
Here are some tips to follow the next time you find yourself around a downed powerline:
Stay at least 10 meters away from downed powerlines:
Treat every downed power line like it is carrying electricity; that is the safest assumption. Stay at least 10 meters away as that’s the safest distance. Stay back and let professional electricians shut off the power and handle the situation.
Be aware that low-hanging wires may be energized:
Powerlines are energized until tested and proven to be de-energized. When around downed power lines, assume low-hanging wires are also energized and can electrocute you if you too stay close to them. Do not allow kids play around these potentially dangerous wires.
Know that grounded electricity spreads outward in a circular shape:
Move away from a fallen powerlines by keeping both feet on the ground.
Do not assume that wires on the ground are “only” telephone, television or fiber-optic cable:
One thing about all assumptions is that they could be “Wrong”. Do not run! Shuffle away to a safe distance.
Do not attempt to move the powerline(s):
Make sure you don’t touch the downed power lines. Shuffle away in small steps to minimize the path of electric current and avoid electrical shock.
Report Downed powerlines:
Report every case of downed powerlines that happen around you. Do not take any actions, wait for the professionals from the electricity companies to handle it.