Electricity powers our lives in so many ways. So much so, that most of us wouldn’t know how to get by without it. But when power lines come down in instances of severe weather, for example, that same electricity that energizes our days can quickly become a matter of life or death.

DTE Energy is committed to minimizing the risk of downed power lines, such as trimming more trees and adding new technologies to help us better identify and eliminate hazards. Still, there are important things that you and your family need to follow to ensure your safety.

1. Look up to know what’s down:
Spotting a downed line isn’t always easy. Sometimes wires can get wrapped in trees, or are hidden by tall weeds and grass or under heavy snowfall. That’s why safety experts suggest “looking up before you go out.”

For example, if bad weather has blown by your house, you should examine nearby power lines before heading out. If you notice a line looks like it’s “missing,” be cautious and call it in. Keep children and family pets indoors until you can confirm it’s safe.

Steer clear of metal fences during and after a storm, too. Metal is a strong conductor of electricity, and can carry the current of a power line many yards down. If you notice a wire has fallen on your fence, notify your neighbors so that they can avoid the area as well.

2. Consider all lines live, and stay away:
Not all live lines spark, smoke or buzz. A silent black wire can still send a deadly shock, and may be energizing the ground around it. The safest thing to do to avoid serious injury or even death is to maintain at least a 20-foot distance from the line – that’s about the length of an ambulance.

Never touch, pick up or move the wire using your hands or any other objects, and never touch anything or anyone in contact with a power line.

If possible, warn others to stay away from the area until DTE or other first responders arrive – but don’t jeopardize your own safety while doing this. Once there, DTE crews will secure the site with yellow caution tape until repairs are complete. Never remove caution tape, and certainly never cross it. The tape is there for a reason and will be cleaned up by crews after the hazard has been removed.

3. Call it in:
Whether you dial 9-1-1 or contact us directly at 800.477.4747, make sure you let someone know that a line is down. Technology enhancements are making it easier for us to recognize outages, but the cause isn’t always confirmed until crews are on site to investigate. By notifying us of downed lines or other hazards, you help us identify public safety concerns quickly, so that we can prioritize our response.