I hit a power pole or other electrical equipment: Now what?
We all think it will never happen to us, but it can, and in an instant.
Drivers veer off the road and run into a power pole or transformer. Farmers sometimes make contact with a power line while driving tractors or other machinery. Dump or feed truck drivers raise or lower their bed and snag a power line. Contractors hit underground lines while digging in new services.
Incidents with power lines or other utility equipment break the electrical current’s usual path. This can make the ground, vehicles and other equipment electrified. People can become dangerously close to or enter electricity’s path. Knowing what to do in that situation can save your life.
If you hit a power pole, pad-mounted transformer (oftentimes on our system, a “green box”) or other electrical equipment, DO NOT get out of the vehicle or cab.
Instead, call 9-1-1 and wait for utility crews to come and de-energize power.
Here are some examples:
• Your tractor or car strikes a guy wire (guy wires are the wires staked into the ground that stabilize utility poles). Under normal conditions, the guy wire is grounded, but if the wire is weakened, pulled out of the ground or otherwise damaged, it could become energized.
• You hit a patch of ice and go off the road and hit a utility pole. Or you are in a car accident and one of the vehicles strikes a power pole. Only get out of the car if there is smoke or a fire; otherwise, stay put. If there is a fire, make a clean jump or hop from your car or truck (without touching it), and hop with your feet together or shuffle, keeping your feet on the ground, at least 30 feet to safety. Think of the downed line sending electrical current across the ground in a ripple-like effect. Each ring of the ripple represents a different voltage. If you step from one ring to another, this is called step potential and it can electrocute you.
• You see an accident that involves a downed power line. DO NOT approach the scene.
• You hit a pad-mounted transformer or another type of electrical box.
• Your vehicle hits a substation.
• You ran off the road, hit a pole and it’s dark out, but YOU DON’T KNOW if lines are down.