Stay Safe Near Downed Power Lines

Strong winds and vicious rain can occasionally send power lines to the ground. As the connection is disrupted, many homes can lose power and go dark. For this reason, it may be tempting to go and inspect the downed power lines. However, downed power lines are dangerous and should be handled by professionals with the proper gear. However, many people believe that they understand the dangers and can stay safe. Unfortunately, many common beliefs about downed power lines are simply not true.

One assumption that people make is that downed power lines are safe to approach. When a power line hits the ground, it does not necessarily short circuit and shut off. If the line hits a poor conductor, like asphalt, power will continue to flow through the line. Contrary to what the movies show, a live downed power line will not always dance and shoot sparks. Lines only spark when they make a firm contact. Therefore, an innocent looking downed line may still be live.

People also assume that power lines are insulated and therefore safe to handle. In many cases, this assumption is not true. Reader’s Digest estimates that 90% of power lines are not insulated. Even if a power line is one of the 10% that is insulated, it must be inspected to confirm that the insulation is intact. Professionals know what to look for in an insulation inspection, but many homeowners do not. In this case, it’s safer to leave it to the professionals.

A final assumption that people make is that they have the proper gear to handle a downed power line. Rubber gloves don’t necessarily allow people to handle downed power lines. The gear must be 100% rubber. Many people don’t have 100% rubber because sometimes other materials are mixed with rubber for a desired result. The other materials can be conductive in some cases. If there are conductive materials in the rubber gloves or boots, the person runs the risk of being shocked by the downed power line. Professionals have the proper gear and required protection to handle downed lines.

Downed power lines are an unfortunate outcome of some severe storms. It can be frustrating to lose power when you need it for heating and cooling. While it may be tempting to try to fix it yourself, this is a job best left to the professionals. In many local areas, there is a hotline that homeowners can call to notify the professionals of a downed power line. This is the safest approach to getting your power back on as quickly as possible.

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