|Look Up for Power Lines and Stay Safe|
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Safe Electricity Urges Caution and Awareness
Things we see everyday can almost fade from view. In fact, recent studies have found that people’s minds likely ignore power lines because they have seen them so often they don’t even notice them anymore. But failure to notice high voltage power lines can be a deadly oversight. As part of the 2010 “Teach Learn Care TLC” campaign, Safe Electricity wants to raise awareness about the dangers and precautions to take around power lines.
According to the U.S. Consumer and Product Safety Commission, hundreds of consumer deaths occur each year from direct or indirect contact with power lines. Electrocution is also the second leading cause of death for utility and construction workers according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. With so many people heading outdoors in the spring, power line awareness is even more crucial at this time of year.
Often when we undertake outdoor activities, we don’t even think about power lines. Taking a few moments to become aware of your surroundings is a critical step to keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.
Safe Electricity encourages everyone to follow these guidelines as they prepare to work outdoors this year:
Another instance where people often come in contact with power lines is through vehicle crashes. In accidents that bring down power lines, our instincts tell us to flee danger. However, it’s almost always best to stay in your vehicle and wait for help.
Four Indiana teenagers found themselves in this dangerous situation last February. After colliding with a power pole, a power line fell on the vehicle they were traveling in. Fortunately, some of them had just attended a power line safety demonstration at their high school.
Lee Whittaker, one of the students involved in the crash, credits their survival to timely electrical safety education. “I made sure everyone else was okay and made sure I was okay. I told them not to get out,” Whittaker said. “That was the main thing he had repeated during the program, [you should] not get out of a vehicle if you’re in an accident involving power lines.”
If you must get out because of fire or another danger, jump clear of the vehicle without touching it and the ground at the same time. Then hop with feet together -- don't run or stride. Electricity spreads out through the ground in ripples, like a stone dropped in water. The voltage is highest in the ring closest to the vehicle and decreases with distance. Hop with feet together so that one foot won't be in a higher voltage zone than another, which could make you a conductor for electricity!
If you come upon, or witness an accident involving toppled power poles and lines, don’t leave your vehicle to approach the accident scene. Often our inclination is to step in and help those in danger and offer assistance to the injured. However, in accidents involving power poles, the best thing you can do is call for help. Wait for trained assistance to arrive, or you could become an additional victim in need of rescue.