|Winter increases the potential for power line accidents.|
|Library of Articles - Driving Safety|
Winter increases the potential for power line accidents.
Winter driving is a challenge, not only negotiating snow and slush, but also trying to avoid skidding off the pavement when you encounter an unseen patch of ice. When cars and trucks leave the pavement because of poor winter driving conditions, tragedy can be compounded if utility poles are hit and overhead power lines come down.
Such events are not limited to drivers of a particular age, and can happen to anyone, so ensure that all drivers in your family know what to do should the unthinkable happen during the winter driving season. It does not take erratic driving to result in a collision with a power line, even though caution is the winter driving watchword.
Safe Electricity’s recent Teach Learn Care TLC campaign featured the fate of four Indiana teens whose vehicle collided with a utility pole and wires draped around the overturned car. They were able to escape injury by remaining in the vehicle until utility crewmen could turn off the power and create a safe opportunity for the driver and passengers to exit.
If you must get out because of fire or other danger, jump clear of the vehicle without touching it and the ground at the same time. Then hop with feet together -- don't run or stride. Electricity spreads out through the ground in ripples, like a stone dropped in water. The voltage is highest in the ring closest to the vehicle and decreases with distance. Hop with feet together so that one foot won't be in a higher voltage zone than another, which could make you a conductor for electricity!
If the power line is still energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path for that electricity and electrocution is the tragic result. Even if a power line has landed on the ground, there is still the potential for the area near your car to be energized. Stay inside the vehicle unless there’s fire or imminent risk of fire. It’s best to wait until local electric utility crews arrive to make sure power to the line is cut off.
If you encounter an accident involving a vehicle skidding off an ice-covered road and colliding with a utility pole, do not follow your instinct to assist the motorist. Live electric lines may be on the ground or difficult to see if they are hanging low. Anyone responding to such a situation should be cautious of the potential for electrical injury or death, and wait for linemen to de-energize the line, or you will become a victim yourself.
Just because electric wires may be coated with ice or lying in snow or ice, does not reduce their danger. They can still carry electricity, which is not readily detectable, until you feel it; and then it may be too late to escape injury.