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Plug into Safety

Dos and don’ts after hitting a utility pole

  • DO gather your wits before touching anything.
  • DON’T open the car door or reach out the window.
  • DO call 9-1-1 if you have your cell phone. Tell them you’ve struck a utility pole and that power lines may have fallen.
  • DON’T step outside. If a power line has fallen onto your car and is still energized — as it may well be — it is energizing your car. If you are alive, you are not currently in harm’s way. You are like a bird that lands on overhead power lines all the time and are not creating a path to ground for the current. But if you step from your car to the ground, you create a path. Those 7,200 volts or more could go through you and kill you instantly.
  • DO yell for help if you do not have a cell phone, or cannot find yours after the crash.
  • DO tell passersby to call 9-1-1 and to stay back. They might walk right into a fallen energized line.
  • DO yell to rescue workers approaching your car that live power lines might have fallen. Even they sometimes need reminding, too, of the dangers.

Tips for young drivers

  • DO keep your phone in a secure place, like a pocket, the storage between the front seats or glove compartment, in case you have an accident. In a crash, you’ll want to call for help if you are able to. But if it’s been thrown about the car’s cabin, you might not know where it is.
  • DO tell others where you are going, what route you are taking and when you should arrive or be home before you leave.
  • DON’T use your phone while your car is moving. If you need to text or use your hands to call, safely pull over somewhere first
  • DON’T get out the car if it ever leaves the road and strikes a utility pole. Fallen power lines are hard to see and could still kill whomever touches them or gets too close to them. Tell others to stay away, too, until rescue help arrives.
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