How to Safely Deal With a Downed Power Line

How to Safely Deal with a Downed Power Line

We've all seen the movies where a power line comes crashing down from amongst the trees and lands onto the road or atop the car.

High-voltage power lines, which carry the power from plants and transformers to customers, can come tumbling down during severe storms at a moment's notice.

The danger of this trope is more than fiction, however.

While it won't happen every day (hopefully!), a downed power line won't be totally unusual if the SHTF.

In fact, if your power has ever been out for long periods, this incident is frequently the root cause of all the trouble.

So what is one to do if they bump into a fallen power line?

Note: if you are in a car when a pole or line falls, it is much safer to remain inside the grounded vehicle than getting out on foot.

If the wire falls on the car, do not touch anything--stay inside and wait for help.

1. Assume that all power lines, whether sparking or not, are live.

Stay away from downed power lines

This is comparable to the assumption that all firearms are loaded.

You never know what's changed when you take your eyes away, even for a moment.

2. Stay far away from downed lines.

While you may be thinking, "Duh," electric current can travel through any conductive material, and water on the ground can provide a "channel" from the power line to your body.

An electrical shock can also occur if you come into contact with the charged particles near a high-voltage line; direct contact is not necessary for electrocution to occur.

Never touch a vehicle that has come in contact with a live wire--it may still retain a charge.

Can you get electrocuted if your car touches a downed power line?

3. Do not assume that a non-sparking wire is safe.

Often, power may be restored by automated equipment, causing a "dead" wire to become dangerous.

Stay away from downed lines even if you know they are not electric lines--the line could have come in contact with an electric line when it fell, causing the downed line to be "hot." 

4. If a person comes into contact with a live wire, use a nonconductive material to separate the person from the electrical source.

Use a wooden broom handle, a wooden chair, or a dry towel or sheet.

If you choose to use a towel or something similar, double-check it is not wet!

It's also worth noting that rubber or insulated gloves offer no protection.

5. Avoid direct contact with the skin of the victim or any conducting material touching it until he or she is disconnected; you may be shocked also.

6. Check the pulse and begin rescue breathing and CPR if necessary.

Check this link here if you'd like to grab first-aid kits or additional survival equipment to store in your vehicle in case of life-threatening situations like this.

Pour Conclure

Downed power lines may not appear to be as dramatic as they are presented in the media and entertainment, yet they are still just as lethal and dangerous.

If you do ever happen to come across them on your adventures, heed our advice, stay clear, and take the appropriate action if someone is injured.

The information presented to you here today is from Joshua Piven's book, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook - an excellent on-the-go addition to any hiking pack or bug-out-bag.

However, something like the SAS Survival Handbook will be more practical for everyday use while outdoors.


-Alexander @ Survival Cat


If you're gearing up for your next adventure, take a peek at our catalog and see if there is anything you'll need to accompany your travels.


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