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Use Caution Around Downed Power Lines: Look Up, Look Down and Look Out!

In Farmington Hills, a number of people have been electrocuted by touching a downed power line.

Throughout the year, respond to downed power lines. Most are caused from storms, heavy snow, and high winds. As we transition into spring, this is the season for high winds and thunderstorms, so precautions must be taken when outside, especially if power is lost to your home.

Utility companies use many different educational phrases in an effort to educate residents, but one that seems to sticks out is Look Up, Look Down, and Look Out!

Pretty good advice, I’d say. Here in Farmington Hills, there have been a number of people who have been electrocuted by simply touching a downed power line. Utility power lines can carry a lot of energy and if not treated safely can be fatal.

The number one rule with power lines is simple - consider all power lines to be energized!

  • Maintain a safe distance from any downed power line. Whatever the length of the downed line is, that may still be too close.

  • Electricity can travel through the ground, so therefore a live wire on the ground could harm you without you ever touching the wire.

  • Electricity can also travel through tree limbs. Never remove a limb that is touching a power line.

  • Do not touch any fences that a power line may have fallen across, especially metal fences. You could become electrocuted even if you live many houses from the wire.

  • Keep kids and pets inside if power is lost to your home. If your pet needs to go outside, use a leash.

  • Never use any object to move a downed power line.

  • If a power line should come in contact with your vehicle, stay inside until help arrives, as your vehicle may be energized. Do not attempt to jump out. If you absolutely must leave the vehicle, your jump must be perfect, jumping as far away from the vehicle as possible, landing both feet on the ground at the same time, never touching the vehicle and ground at the same time. Do not allow anyone else to touch your vehicle as they may become part of a serious problem.

If someone has made contact with a downed power line, don’t try to rescue them, as you risk becoming a victim yourself. Dial 911 Immediately! Emergency responders will prioritize the incident with the utility company.

Lieutenant Denny Hughes is a fire and safety educator with the Farmington Hills Fire Department. He may be reached at 248-871-2823 or via e-mail at Dhughes@fhgov.com

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