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.

Downed Power Line Facts

  • 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.
  • Electricity is invisible. 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.
  • Downed power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death.

Safety Tips - Live to Tell

The following tips can help keep you safe around downed lines:

  • If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything touching it. The human body is a ready conductor of electricity.
  • The proper way to move away from the 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 instead.
  • Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact  with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even  non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and then electrocute you.
  • Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.
  • If you are in your car and it is in contact with the downed line, stay in  your car. Tell others to stay away from the vehicle.
  • If you must leave your car because it’s on fire, jump out of the vehicle    with both feet together. Do not touch the live car and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the car  to the earth. Shuffle away with small steps keeping your feet together  and on the ground at all times. 
  • Do not drive over downed lines.
  • After a storm or other event, do not attempt to disconnect or move downed lines. Call for assistance and stay away!