power line safety

AEP-SWEPCO spokeswoman Karen Wissing talks about power line safety with meteorologist Brian Fowler. 

This time of the year we get a lot of storms in the ArkLaTex. And there are situations where you should be cautious if those storms cause power lines to fall on your vehicle or house.

The first scenario involves a driver who’s going down a roadway when a power line comes down. What do you do? Get out of that car?

Experts say there are two options. If you’re not in immediate danger, meaning if the vehicle is not on fire, then stay put and call 911.

However, if the car is on fire, that’s when it gets tricky. You should hop out of the car as far as you can without touching it and the ground at the same time. Because remember, electricity is always trying to find a path to the ground. So shuffle your feet and continue hopping until you get about 35 to 50 feet away.

Never back up your car. There could be unseen damage, experts say.

If you do stay in a car that's not on fire, call 911. If a bystander starts walking toward you or the car and does not know that power lines are on your vehicle, honk. Do whatever you can to keep that person from coming to the vehicle.

The second scenario is when power lines affect you at home. Say lightning strike downs power lines onto your home or in your yard. Experts say your reaction should be similar to if you were in your car.

If your house is not on fire, stay put. Call 911 immediately.

If the house is on fire, move to the opposite side of the house that the power line is on and do the hopping, jumping technique until you’re out of the house. 

It is important not to use a land line or touch any plumbing if a power line is on your house because you need to assume that anything is energized.

What about when a severe thunderstorm or hurricane strikes your community? The wind is howling and blowing rain and debris. The solution is to find shelter as fast as you can.

Also, do not touch anything, particularly any fences around you. Assume everything is energized and even the water could be conducting electricity. 

Realistically, individuals can come in contact with downed power lines even on a nice day. But don’t just walk away and do nothing. Turn around and get about 35 to 50 feet away and call 911.

Some may be tempted to move it, perhaps with a broom stick. But experts say that’s not a good idea. The broom stick could have even the slightest bit of wetness on it, making it a conductor for electricity.

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