Winter Increases the Potential for Power Line Accidents
Winter wonderlands are beautiful, but they can be a driving nightmare. Snow, slush, ice, and wind make it stressful and difficult to drive. These driving conditions also make it more likely that your car will skid off the road. Losing control of your car may seem like the worst-case scenario, but if you do not know what you are doing, the moments following an accident could potentially be more dangerous than the accident itself.
In an accident, a car may slide off the road and into a power pole. The pole may fall down, lines may fall on your car or nearby, and the area around your car may become charged with electric energy. If you stepped out of the car in this scenario, your body would become the path to ground for the electricity, and you could be electrocuted.
While downed lines can sometimes show they are live by arcing and sparking with electricity, this is not always the case. Power lines do not always show signs that they are live but are just as lethal.
Stay in the car after an accident with a power pole. Warn those who try to come near your car to help that they must stay far away. Call 911 for help, and wait until a professional from the electric utility tells you it is safe to leave the car.
The exception to this rule is if your car is on fire. In that case, jump clear of the vehicle without touching it and the ground at the same time. Then hop away with feet together. This way there will not be a voltage difference between your two feet, which would give electricity the chance to flow through your body.
If you witness a car collision with a power pole, do not approach the accident. By trying to help, you will put your own life at risk. The best thing to do is contact emergency responders and stay far away from the accident.
Power lines may be difficult to see if they are covered in snow or ice, so be cautious if you must be out driving after a winter storm.