Staying Safe Near Overhead Power Lines
September 21, 2020
If you look up at a utility pole or tower, you may not be able to identify which lines are communication cables and which are energized wires. That’s why it’s important to always assume every wire on a utility pole or tower is energized and hazardous, even if it’s downed by a severe storm, fallen tree, car accident or any other circumstance.
Don’t Be Fooled by the Coating
Some power lines appear insulated, but the coating that covers them is meant to protect the line from the elements. It does not protect people from electrical contact. Making contact with a power line or anything it might be touching could cause serious injury or even death.
Distance Is Your Best Protection
Power lines should never be touched under any circumstance. Be careful when handling metal gutters, antennas or other long metal items that could inadvertently touch an energized power line. When working on a roof, be cautious of where power lines are so you don’t accidentally come in contact with one.
Keep yourself and all equipment at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines that carry 50 kV or less, which are typical in residential areas. Higher-voltage power lines require greater working distances. If working near a power line, contact Duquesne Light Company (DLC) at 412-393-7100 for assistance. If necessary, we will send a representative to confirm voltages and safety clearances.
Downed Power Lines
Downed power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death. High voltages also may be transmitted through materials other than power lines. A kite, cable, wooden pole or other normally non-conducting material may carry an electrical current if it becomes wet or soiled.
Call DLC’s emergency number (412-393-7000) to report downed wires, accidents involving utility poles or power lines, or any other hazardous situation. We answer 24 hours a day, every day. If our automated phone system answers, follow the easy directions to immediately report an issue.
Here’s how you can stay safe near downed power lines:
- If a power line falls over your car, stay in the car. If you must leave the car because of immediate danger, jump free of the car, making sure that no part of your body is touching the car when you come in contact with the ground.
- It is not possible to determine if a downed power line is energized. Never touch or attempt to move a downed power line or a person who is in contact with a power line.
- Keep children and pets away from areas where power lines may have fallen.
- Don’t drive over downed power lines.
- If a downed line is near water, keep a safe distance from the line and the water, even if it is a small puddle.
- Be careful not to stand under tree limbs or power lines. Tree limbs can become weakened during a storm but might not fall until several hours or even days later. The same can be true for power lines or poles that sustain damage.
For more electrical safety tips, visit our website.