Storm activity can often interrupt electric service when power lines come down. Heavy thunderstorms in the spring / summer and ice storms in the winter are most often to blame. Any downed power line is a severe hazard as it may carry current that can cause severe injury or death. There is no way to look at a downed line to determine whether it is energized. Also, non-energized lines may later carry current as utility crews try to restore service or if automated switches attempt to restore service. Even cable and telephone lines may be energized if the storm has caused them to establish contact with a nearby power line.
ASSUME ANY DOWNED LINE IS ENERGIZED AND LETHAL! call 9-1-1!
Residents who use back-up generators for power during outages should make certain they have been properly installed by a certified electrician. Home generators must be isolated from the local power grid to prevent energizing circuits the power company has intentionally shut down for safety. Non-isolated generators can overheat when the grid's current is restored causing a serious fire hazard in your home. Never connect portable generators to an electric outlet ! Instead, connect appliances directly to the generator.
What to do if you're in a vehicle?
If you are are in a vehicle that comes in contact with a power line stay in the vehicle if at all possible. Call for emergency help using a cell phone or roll your window down and yell or honk for assistance. Make certain you caution anyone stopping to help to remain clear of your vehicle! If you must leave the vehicle for some reason (fire for example), remove all lose items such as purses, loose clothing, etc. and jump clear of the vehicle. DO NOT touch the ground and the vehicle at the same time or you could be injured or killed by electric current. Land on both feet together then shuffle your feet to move away from the vehicle.
Fire and EMS Response
Unfortunately, during heavy storm activity local Fire Departments are often overwhelmed with calls for assistance. During these times it may take an unusually long period of time before we can send assistance. Calls must be prioritized and downed lines are given lower priority than fires, auto accidents and the like. When you call for assistance simply keep persons clear of any downed lines until help arrives . Be especially aware that any downed line may also be energizing nearby fences, siding and trees. Our members do not carry any specialized tools to safely remove or handle downed power lines. One of our trucks has equipment to find stray current and to cut connected residential service lines in a life-threatening emergency. On most occasions we will simply mark the hazard area and instruct nearby residents to monitor the site until the power company arrives. They should keep all persons clear until advised by the power company that all hazards have been corrected.
For additional information please visit AEP's website.