Electrical hazards cause more than 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries each year among the U.S. workforce. Electrocution is sixth among causes of workplace deaths in America. There are 30,000 non-fatal shocks each year that occur in the home.
As I watched the coverage of hurricane Florence recently, I saw a reporter bring everyone’s attention to a downed power line. The reporter walked within a few feet of the electric line. Rain had been heavy and the ground was saturated. The reported stated that the wire was charged and had been sparking,
As a fire/medic I have seen several people electrocuted. Most of these people lost their lives because they walked too close to downed power lines. The electrical current can be conducted through the ground even if the ground is not saturated with water. In addition, the current has been known to spark or jump from the wire to individuals when they are too close. For this to happen the conditions must be just right. Unfortunately we cannot tell when these conditions are present.
There have been several incidents of firefighters responding to grass fires of unknown cause. As they start extinguishing the fire they are electrocuted. Two of these cases involved a power line down over a quarter of a mile away. The power line was in contact with a wire fence charging it. When firefighters came in contact with the fence they were killed. What makes situations like this frustrating is the indication of danger was so far away it was not noticed. We must stay vigilant at all times.
Precautions to take when you see a downed power line and prevent being electrocuted:
- If you see a downed power line move away. The ground can be charged up to 20 yards away.
- Consider all downed lines charged.
- If you see someone in contact with a power line do not touch them. Call 911.
- Never attempt to move a downed power line.
- Stay away from water near downed lines.
- Do not drive over downed power lines.
- If a power line comes in contact with with your car, do not attempt to exit your vehicle.
- If your car is on fire and you must exit it, avoid making contact with car and ground at the same time.
By following these simple rules you can stay safe and avoid injury or death.
The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.