In an emergency, police, fire and ambulance personnel are first on the scene, often putting themselves in harm’s way to help others. However, when power lines are involved, the dangers faced by first responders aren’t always as obvious.
Whether caused by a car accident or a lightning storm, power line hazards can hide in everyday emergencies. Without proper training, first responders may be putting themselves at risk of injury or even death.
If you’re an EMT or a member of the police force, RCMP or fire rescue, follow these steps to stay safe on the scene:
- Always assume the line is energized
You can’t tell if a downed power line or piece of equipment is energized just by looking at it. Avoid danger by treating all power lines, underground transformers and anything in contact with them as energized.
- Park at least 10 metres away and stay put
When you arrive on scene, park your vehicle at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from the downed line or damaged transformer. Stay in the safe zone until the utility service provider confirms it is safe to approach the scene.
- Don’t become a victim yourself
You won’t be able to help anyone if you’re injured or electrocuted. Never touch anything or anyone in contact with a downed power line, including injured or trapped victims, vehicles, trees, puddles or bodies of water.
Note: Guardrails, metal or barbed wire fences are excellent conductors of electricity, so always proceed with caution when working around them.
- Stop traffic and keep people in the 10-metre safe zone
Whether on foot or in a vehicle, coming into contact with a power line or the energized area surrounding it puts you at risk of being electrocuted. Pedestrians and motorists might not see a downed line or think it’s safe to drive over one, so always be sure to redirect traffic away from the scene and tell others to stay away.
- Call the local utility service provider
Once you’ve secured the area, contact the local utility service provider to de-energize the line or transformer. A crew with proper training and equipment will arrive as soon as possible and will confirm when it’s safe to approach the scene.
By recognizing the danger of downed power lines when arriving on the scene of an emergency, first responders are better able to keep themselves and those who need their assistance safe.
Interested in on-site power line safety training for you and your team? Book your session today.