Life & death decisions with downed power lines

Would you know what to do if you came across power lines brought down by wind or a crash? OPPD’s number one priority is always safety – for our customers, as well as our employees. With that in mind, we have some important safety strategies.

NEVER touch a downed power line or go near one. Always assume the  line is live and high voltage.

  • Do not touch a fallen power line or anything touching the wire. This includes other people or equipment.
  • Keep children and pets away from fallen electric wires.
  • Do not drive over a fallen power line.
  • Call OPPD at 1-800-554-6773 or 911 immediately to report a fallen power line.

If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed power line…

  • Stay inside! The safest place is in your car. Remember, the ground around your car may be energized.
  • Honk the horn, roll down your window and yell for help.
  • Warn others to stay away. Anyone who touches the equipment or ground around the vehicle may be injured.
  • Use your mobile phone to call OPPD at 1-800-554-6773 or 911.
  • OPPD workers will tell you when it is safe to exit your vehicle.

If there is a fire and you MUST exit a vehicle that has come in contact with downed power lines…

downed power lines

Use this escape method ONLY as a last resort if you MUST exit your vehicle due to imminent danger such as a fire.

  • Remove loose items of clothing.
  • Keep your elbows at your side, clasp hands, and jump clear of the vehicle, so you are not touching the car when your  feet hit the ground.
  • Keep both feet close together and shuffle away from the vehicle without picking up your feet.
  • Once you are at least 35 feet away, dial 911 and provide your exact location.

American Electric Power has posted a great video demonstrating the technique. Click here to check it out. For more information on electric safety, in general, please visit

Jodi Baker

About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. She's married with two children (a boy and a girl), who keep her and her husband, Dave, hopping. Busy and blessed.

4 thoughts on “Life & death decisions with downed power lines

  1. What do you do if the car is on fire/smoking, you’re on a downed energized line, and you have two children in car seats?

  2. My family was recently involved in an emergency with a downed powerline of unknown origin. They stayed inside the vehicle and called 911. After 40 minutes of no response another vehicle almost hit theirs, still tied up in the line, and my 15 year old son jumped out of the vehicle because he did not understand the dangers and thought he was warning someone else. Being a paramedic, I thought the worst. Luckily, no one was injured and the line was not a power line, rather, a new high speed cable line. None the less, 911 emergency dispatch refused to send anyone but utilities! I asked for fire or rescue as they were still stuck inside the vehicle and on a dangerous curve where more lives were possibly at risk. When I called 911 dispatch to follow up on the call, we were told that “protocol” was to only send utilities. This is an absurd concept to me. To my point, what would you, a power company suggest be sent as far as 911 dispatch is concerned. As I understand the dangers in this situation and, if the protocol truly is to only send utilities, I want to prevent any further live risk or future injury, and wish to work to have such protocols changed.

    1. What a scary situation for you! We do ask that people call OPPD or 911 immediately in these situations. The line must be de-energized in order to safely respond. However, I understand your traffic concerns compounding things. I will check with my Safety team and get back with you on this. Thanks for checking in with us!

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