Electricity helps us out in so many positive ways that it’s easy to forget that it can be dangerous.
We need to know the basics of how to stay safe around electricity in our homes and businesses, but also around the community, where storms and motor vehicle accidents can damage power lines.
A simple set of rules was created by BC Hydro to help people stay safe in a variety of situations around fallen power lines. By remembering the words “Down. Danger. Dial,” you’ll be better prepared to deal with electrical emergencies. BC Hydro integrated them into an easy- to- remember sentence that can save your life or the lives of others when confronted with a fallen power line. Simply rehearse this to yourself: if you see a downed power line, it’s a danger, so dial 911 immediately.
Always assume that a fallen power line is live. React by calling 911 – not BC Hydro. Dialling the emergency line gives you quicker access to emergency personnel that can arrive to the scene, making sure people stay away until the area is deemed as safe and sound. In honour of Electrical Safety Day on May 11, we’ve compiled a helpful list of directions to use when faced with the following fallen power line emergencies.
Fallen power lines involving vehicle accidents
When dealing with fallen power lines involving vehicle accidents, you’ll be inside or outside of your car. The following steps will help you prepare for each scenario.
If you’re inside the vehicle
1. If you’re inside the vehicle, only drive out from the power line or the source of electricity if you can do so safely. Make sure to travel at least the length of a bus – about 10 metres before stopping.
2. If you can’t drive the vehicle because it’s inoperable, you’re injured, or you’re faced with obstacles, stay put until help arrives.
3. If you absolutely must get out of the vehicle, don’t touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time with any part of your body or clothing.
4. With the door open, prepare to jump with your feet always touching each other. Just stand up, tuck your elbows into your stomach, and hold your hands close to your chest.
5. Jump out and away from the vehicle, taking care to land with your feet together and touching. Don’t stumble.
6. Calmly shuffle with your feet together. You must do this consistently – the side of the heel of one foot should still be touching the side of the toe of the other when you start to move the other leg.
7. Keep shuffling until you’re at least a bus-length away from the vehicle (10 metres).
8. Call 911 and ensure that no bystanders move to within 10 metres of the vehicle.
If you’re outside the vehicle
1. Stay at least one bus-length away, which is 10 metres (33 feet).
2. Tell anyone in the vehicle to stay where they are.
3. Call 911 and ensure no other bystanders move to within 10 metres of the vehicle.
4. BC Hydro’s trained power line technicians will isolate and ground the damaged equipment and will supervise removal of the vehicle.
Fallen power lines involving storms and other incidents
Remember that if you see a broken cross arm or other equipment but the power line is not down, call 1-888-POWERON to report. Fallen wires may not throw sparks and should always be treated as live and extremely dangerous. Following the simple steps found below can prepare you for dealing with fallen power lines involving storms and other incidents.
1. If there’s a fallen power line, stay at least a bus-length away, which is 10 metres (33 feet).
2. Call 911 and ensure no other bystanders move to within 10 metres of any fallen lines.
To be proactive about preventing electrical accidents make sure to teach your kids about safety around electricity inside and outside the home. Always contact BC One Call before you dig your yard, or on your job. You run the risk of death or damage to the property if you hit any of the many buried cables, gas lines, and/or other underground facilities that serve our cities.
This year, Electric Safety Day will include an exercise B.C.’s teachers can do with their students. Kids will watch BC Hydro’s interactive safety video that covers a variety of vital safety information.
For more information, check out BC Hydro online.