FPIA holds safety as a number one priority at all times. Not only do we want our employees to have a safe working environment, but we also strive to keep our customers and general public safe. Sometimes hazardous situations beyond our control can occur. These unexpected situations could be a vehicle accident involving a power pole, or it may be a storm causing damage to parts of our system. There are several different scenarios which could create hazardous situations with invisible dangers. Coming into contact with electricity can be fatal. Electric shock occurs when excessive current flows through the body, which can stop the heart or create extreme burns in the skin. Power line workers at FPIA have proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which aid in isolating them from these hazardous potentials while performing line work. Their PPE as well as in-depth knowledge of electricity and how to operate on a power line play a crucial role in keeping them safe.
Below are a few scenarios that the general public may encounter and a few hazards to be aware of. Being proactive and being able to anticipate hazardous potentials during these scenarios is key to keeping yourself and others safe.
Encountering Downed Power Lines
This can be anything from a power line on the pavement or grass due to a broken pole all the way to a line on the ground out in the middle of the woods, due to a fallen tree on the line. In the aftermath of a storm or tornado, there may be several power lines on the ground. Any situation where the power line is touching or close to the ground is a hazardous situation. Call 911 and FPIA immediately (256-845-0671). Below are a few tips on what to do when you see a downed power line.
- Stay far away from the power line. Do not touch any objects, including tree limbs, that are in contact with the line. Objects touching the line as well as the ground itself surrounding the line may be energized up to 35 feet away from the downed line.
- You cannot tell if a power line is energized just by looking at it. Always assume that all power lines and wires are energized at lethal voltages. DO NOT assume a line or wire is safe to touch, even if it is on the ground or appears to be insulated.
- Do not attempt to move the downed power line with any objects. Even a wooden stick that is slightly wet will conduct electricity.
- Do not drive over power lines. You can put yourself and others in a hazardous situation. See Vehicle Accident Safety below.
- Stay away from water around a downed power line.
- Do not attempt to cut a tree that has fallen over a downed power line. There is not only electrical but extreme tension hazards present.
Overhead Power Line
These are some tips to keep in mind when working around overhead power lines. Please, always use caution when working near electricity.
- When you know you will be working at heights or handling long objects, survey the surrounding area for overhead wires beforehand. Pay close attention when working on rooftops or on top of buildings.
- Never spray water at or near an overhead power line. You can create a path to ground and experience electrical shock.
- Electricity can travel through tree limbs. Never remove limbs touching a power line. Call FPIA for assistance.
- Keep yourself, and any equipment at least 10 feet away from overhead wires. In some areas there may be transmission lines with voltages greater than 50KV. If you are unsure of the line voltage that you will be working around please contact FPIA to confirm appropriate work clearances.
- If you are operating a dozier, crane, derrick or other heavy equipment that comes into contact with an overhead power line, remain calm. Stay inside the equipment and move the equipment back away from the power line, if possible. If it is not possible, or will create more danger, remain inside the equipment and call for help. See Vehicle Accident Safety below for more details on what to do if you are unable to move the equipment away from the power line and are in danger.
- If you see a fellow worker in danger, stay away and warn others to stay away until FPIA clears the site.
Vehicle Accident Safety
If you are driving and a line happens to fall across your vehicle, or you are involved in a vehicle accident, stay calm and think before you act. Below are a few tips to keep in mind during this situation.
- Stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line, if you can do so. If you are in an accident and the vehicle cannot move or the engine stalls, DO NOT leave the vehicle. Wait for help. Also, warn others to stay away and not to touch the vehicle or the wire. Call, or ask someone to call 911 and FPIA immediately (256-845-0671). FPIA will verify that the power line has a visual air-gap between the energized circuit and the downed line before the driver gets out of the vehicle, and before any other crews attempt to approach the vehicle.
- If you have to leave your vehicle for an emergency such as a fire, keep the following tips in mind:
- Jump out as far away from the vehicle as you can, avoiding simultaneous contact with the vehicle and the ground, and land with both feet together.
- Once out of the vehicle, keep both feet together and hop away. Never take steps. If you are unable to hop, shuffle away from the vehicle, keeping your feet together and maintain contact with the ground at all times. Remember, the ground can also be energized. Separating your feet could create potential for electric shock and be fatal.
- Do not return to the vehicle or let others near the vehicle until FPIA declares it safe.
- If you witness the accident, stay at least 35 feet away from the downed line. Also, try to instruct the victim to stay inside the vehicle unless there is danger. In the event there is danger walk them through the steps above and keep others away.