In early 2020, a young man in Texas was driving on a highway when he collided with a utility pole. Even though he survived the accident, the man died when stepping out of the vehicle to check damage. The medical examiner determined the cause of the man’s death to be electrocution from downed wires that remained live.
Power lines typically carry between 155,000 and 765,000 volts of electricity, more than enough to seriously injure or kill you. Taking three steps after hitting an electric pole may save your life and the lives of others.
1. Call 911 immediately
If you collide with a utility pole, you simply may not be able to gauge risk. Therefore, call 911 immediately to report the accident. Then, wait for law enforcement officers, firefighters or emergency medical technicians to arrive and give you further instructions.
2. Remain in your vehicle
Even if downed power lines appear to be far from your vehicle, you may still be in danger. Electrical wires may electrify the ground, causing it to be as hazardous as the wire itself. Consequently, unless you have an urgent reason to exit, such as a car fire, remain in your vehicle.
3. Exit carefully
If leaving your vehicle before authorities arrive is your only option, you must be careful not to touch electricity and anything else at the same time. Open the door and jump out of the car, landing on both feet simultaneously.
Next, shuffle your feet until you reach a safe distance of at least 30 feet from downed wires.
After exiting carefully, alert emergency responders and anyone else who may have stopped about the potentially danger. Finally, do not return to your vehicle until officers allow you to do so.