Power lines keep the electricity flowing to your household, neighborhood, and local businesses. But, what if that power line in your backyard falls, or even worse, catches fire? What if you’re out running errands and a power line is down in the store parking lot? While downed lines are not a common occurrence, learning how to handle the situation and take action is important.
For all power lines
Regardless of where you are, you should always assume power lines are live and carrying a high voltage. You cannot tell if a power line is energized by looking at it. Sparks or arcs should not be used to determine if the line is safe to be near. In addition, avoid anything in contact with the line.
Hanging/downed power lines
If you notice a downed power line, first try to identify where the line is coming from while maintaining a distance of at least 20 feet away from it and anything that the line is in physical contact with. While a hanging power line isn’t as immediate of a danger as a downed power line, you should take the exact same precautions.
Power lines on fire
There are multiple reasons that a power line could catch fire including debris or tree damage from a wind, rain, or ice storm. Regardless of the reason, make sure you stay away from the power line and anything within reach of that power line. Get to a safe location and report the power line to DTE and 911 so that a DTE crew and the fire department can come and get the situation under control as quickly as possible.
Power lines on a car
If you see a downed power line on your vehicle and you are not inside it at the time, immediately call 911 and DTE to report the problem. If you are inside your car, call 911 or DTE for help and remain inside until help arrives and you’ve been notified by emergency services or DTE that it is safe to exit the vehicle. If you are inside your car and need to escape the vehicle immediately, remove any loose clothing and exit the car without touching the frame of the car, and without touching the ground and car simultaneously. With your feet as close together as possible, jump as far from the car as you can while keeping your feet together. Once outside the vehicle, shuffle your feet slowly or hop away from the vehicle with your feet held together. Make sure you are at least 20 feet away from the power line before you begin to part your feet.