Safe Electricity Warns of Added Danger in Auto Wrecks with Power Poles

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According to the National Safety Council, one in 113 people die in a motor vehicle accident, and if the driver or passengers survive the accident itself, the risk does not always end there. Safe Electricity provides tips to help keep people safe when a car wreck involves a power pole.

Truck wreck with a power pole and downed lines

Truck wreck with a power pole and downed lines

Knowing what actions to take to stay safe can make the difference between life and death. After any car wreck, it is natural for people to want to get out of the car. However, when the wreck involves a power pole, that is the exact wrong thing to do.

Holidays tend to be some of the busiest times of year on the road. With Labor Day weekend quickly approaching, Safe Electricity urges all drivers to be safe during holiday travel and to take extra care with the additional motorists on the road.

According to the National Safety Council, one in 113 people die in a motor vehicle accident. However, not all fatalities occur during an accident. If the driver or passengers survive the accident, the risk does not always end there. When a car wreck involves a power pole, there is an added danger.

“Knowing what actions to take to stay safe can make the difference between life and death. After any car wreck, it is natural for people to want to get out of the car. However, when the wreck involves a power pole, that is the exact wrong thing to do,” says Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council and its Safe Electricity program.

If there is a car accident with a power pole, the vehicle may be charged with electricity. If the driver or passengers step out, they could become the electricity’s path to the ground and could be electrocuted. Loose wires and other equipment may be in close range and in contact with the car — again creating a risk for electrocution if someone steps out of the vehicle.

While downed lines can sometimes show they are live with electricity by arcing and sparking, this is not always the case. Live power lines do not always show signs such as arcing or sparking.

“After an accident, stay in the car, and tell others to do the same,” explains Hall. “Call emergency and utility services. Until utility crews ensure the power is cut off, staying in the vehicle is safest.”

If there is someone approaching the accident scene, warn them to stay away until utility professionals and emergency responders have confirmed that there are no electrical dangers.

The only reason that a person should exit the vehicle is if it is on fire. If someone must exit the vehicle, jump clear of it with feet together and without touching the vehicle and ground at the same time. Then the person should bunny hop, with both feet still together, to safety. Doing this will ensure that there will not be different strengths of electric current running from one foot to another.

Hall adds, “As a good Samaritan witnessing an accident, be sure to never approach the accident scene if a power pole or lines are involved. Stay back, warn others to stay away, and call for help. Make sure the occupants of the car stay inside the vehicle until the utility has arrived to de-energize the lines.”

Safe Electricity encourages all motorists to have a safe Labor Day weekend and to share electrical safety knowledge with friends, family, and new drivers so they will know what to do if ever in a car accident with a power pole. For more information, visit http://www.safeelectricity.org/

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Kyla Kruse
@EnergyEdCouncil
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