Treat all downed wires as live wires

Safety trumps curiosity when it comes to dealing with downed wires on road or property.

News Release from Pacific Power

YAKIMA, Wash.–Last weekend, a tractor knocked down a power line near Toppenish and caused a small power outage, but it could have been much worse. The tractor driver, using his gloved hands, grabbed the power line, assuming it was dead since it was on the ground, and moved it out of the way to continue his work.

But the wire was still live and the driver was very lucky he did not get shocked or killed.

“You can’t tell from looking at the wire,” said Todd Lenseigne, Pacific Power’s senior safety administrator for the district.

Sometimes the wires spark and jump around on the ground, but most of the time, they just sit there, don’t move and appear dead.

“This is the third time in recent months locally that someone has encountered a downed line and assumed it was dead because it was on the ground,” said Lenseigne. “That is extremely risky. You simply can’t tell if a line is energized. Even linemen with years of experience can’t tell by looking at just the wire.”

The best thing to do is avoid any downed lines. If a line has fallen on the ground or on some other object or piece of equipment, always assume it’s hot, live or energized. If fact, you don’t really even need to touch the wire; you can be electrocuted just by standing too close to the downed wire if conditions are wet and the voltage is high.

* If a tractor or vehicle comes in contact with a power line, remain seated until help arrives. If there is danger of fire, jump as far away from the tractor as possible and keep your feet together when landing. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Many injuries have occurred when equipment operators attempted to get back on or touch equipment after dismounting.

* Never attempt to raise or move a power line. Stay clear, keep others away and call 911 and Pacific Power toll free at 1-888-221-7070.