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It will never happen to me

That’s what most people think about the likelihood of being stuck under or next to a fallen powerline.

And while it is highly unlikely, the fact that in 2016 there were 260 incidents of vehicles, equipment, tree cutting activities and debris/vegetation bringing down powerlines in our community, means that it’s important for you to know what to do when faced with a potentially live powerline at your feet.

Importantly, if you’re confronted with a fallen powerline, always assume it’s live.

It all has to do with step potential.

When a live powerline hits the ground, electricity passes into the earth and fans outwards, with the voltage reducing the further away from the point of ground contact.

If you have a foot in one zone, and your other foot in another zone, the voltage difference would travel through your body and give you a hazardous shock.

See step potential in action and how to avoid it in this short video:

So if you’re faced with a fallen powerline in your immediate area, here’s what to do:

Powerline on a vehicle

Road traffic accidents involving powerlines or poles are more common than you think.

In 2016, 203 cars, trucks and equipment came into contact with our network.

If you are unfortunate to be in a road accident that results in a powerline draped over or next to your vehicle, your actions are simple:

  1. Stay where you are and don’t open the doors or get out of the car. 
  2. Call 000 immediately and wait for Western Power to make the area safe.
  3. If you’re unable to call 000, wait for passers-by to report the incident for you.

Powerline on the ground

If a storm, vehicle or tree has brought down a powerline next to you – or you accidently walk into an area close to a fallen powerline – follow these steps:

  1. Stop exactly where you are and don’t move. Remember, electricity wants to travel through a conductor, and human bodies are better conductors than the ground.
  2. Never walk or run away from the situation.
  3. If you can easily reach your phone without moving your feet, call 000 immediately and wait for Western Power to make the area safe.
  4. If you’re unable to call 000, wait for passers-by to report the incident for you.
  5. If you feel that you are in imminent or life-threatening danger by staying where you are, slowly shuffle clear of your current position, keeping both feet close together at all times. It is essential that you don’t contact the ground with feet apart at the same time.

It’s important to remember this simple advice if you come face to face with a fallen powerline.

More information:

Western Power Outage App

Download it today.