Always Assume a Downed Power Line is Deadly

Overhead power lines carry thousands of volts of electricity. If a line is down, always assume it is energized and dangerous, even if the power is out in your area. Touching or getting near a live power line injures and kills.

Never approach an accident scene where a line is down or damaged. If you run toward the accident to help, you too could become a victim by entering the energized area.

Power lines can come down or sag close to the ground for a few reasons: severe weather or damage due to a car accident, for instance. And a downed line isn’t always visible. After severe weather, lines can lurk underneath water or debris.

Stay clear of all types of utility lines. Even if you think lines might be designated for telephone or cable service, they may have contact with damaged and energized power lines nearby. Safe Electricity and SDCEA offer these additional safety reminders:

  • Call 911 to report fallen or damaged power lines.
  • Power lines do not have to be arcing or sparking or making a humming noise to be live.
  • Do not attempt to move a downed line or anything it is touching with another object, such as a stick or pole. Even materials that don’t normally conduct electricity can do so if they are slightly wet.
  • Do not step in water or walk in debris near a downed power line.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from the downed power line.
  • Do not attempt to drive over a downed power line.
  • If a power line falls on your vehicle while driving, do not attempt to drive away or get out. Call for help and stay inside the vehicle until utility crews say it is safe to get out. If there is a fire or you smell gasoline, hop out without touching the vehicle at the same time and do not walk. Instead, hop away to safety.
  • Line properties can change: Any power line that is dead could become energized at any moment due to power restoration or back feed from backup generators.

Always consider all lines to be energized at deadly voltages, regardless of the type. For more information about electrical safety, visit