CALIFORNIA — Most people would not know what to do in the event of a vehicle accident that involves live power lines.
Understanding the dangers and taking specific precautions could save your life. PG&E urges motorists who are in an accident involving power lines to follow these important instructions.
If your vehicle comes into contact with a downed power line:
- Stay inside! The safest place is in your car. The ground around your car may be energized.
- Honk the horn, roll down your window and yell for help.
- Warn others to stay away. Anyone who touches the equipment or ground around the vehicle may be injured.
- Use your cell phone to call 911.
- Fire department, police and PG&E workers will tell you when it is safe to get out of the vehicle.
If there is a fire and you have to exit a vehicle that has come in contact with downed power lines follow these guidelines:
- Remove loose items of clothing.
- Keep your hands at your sides and jump clear of the vehicle, so you are not touching the car when your feet hit the ground.
- Keep both feet close together and shuffle away from the vehicle without picking up your feet.
According to PG&E, in addition to fatalities and injuries, more than 1,700 vehicle-caused incidents in 2016 have caused power outages across PG&E’s 70,000-square-mile service area from Eureka to Bakersfield, impacting nearly 693,000 homes and businesses.
These outages can interrupt electric service to important facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights. The average cost for replacing a utility pole damaged in a vehicle-caused incident was more than $10,000 last year, according to PG&E.
Downed power lines are dangerous. Never touch them. For safety’s sake, always assume that a fallen power line is live, and follow these guidelines:
- Avoid touching the downed line with your hand or an object, such as a stick, broom or pole.
- Avoid touching anything, such as a car, object or equipment, or anyone who is in contact with a fallen power line.
- Keep children and pets away from fallen electric lines.
- Avoid driving over a fallen power line.
- Call 911 immediately to report a fallen power line.
Follow these safety tips when using balloons and toys around power lines:
- Ensure that helium-filled metallic balloons are tied to weights heavy enough to prevent them from floating into power lines.
- Use metallic balloons, kites and remote-control toys away from overhead electric lines to avoid the potential for power outages, fires and serious injuries.
- Contact PG&E immediately at 1-800-743-5000 if a balloon or toy is caught in a power line. Never attempt to retrieve an object that is on or near a power line.
Look up and live
Remember these important safety tips for overhead power lines:
- Look up before lifting ladders and other long-handled tools to avoid accidental contact with electric lines.
- Stay away from fallen or dangling power lines. Don’t touch the lines. Call 911 immediately.
- Contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report tree branches or limbs near power lines. Their tree-trimming crews are qualified to work around high-voltage lines, and can cut the limbs for you. Never attempt to do the trimming yourself.