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Damaged powerline

Make the safe call 13 13 51 24/7 emergency line

Damaged powerlines can be dangerous

If you see a damaged powerline, make the safe call

Every year, stormy weather and high winds cause vegetation and debris to blow into powerlines, causing power outages and safety hazards.

It happens most during summer and winter storm seasons – but we know storms can hit any time during the year.

It’s important to be prepared and know how to respond if vegetation or debris is blown into the electricity network – damaged powerlines can cause safety hazards and power outages for your and your neighbours.

The main thing to know is if you see a fallen or damaged powerline in your community, make the safe call to Western Power immediately on 13 13 51. We will make the area safe and work to restore power as quickly as possible.

How can you prepare your property to reduce the impact on you?

  • Trim your trees: Trim back any trees or branches on your property that are too close to powerlines. This reduces the likelihood of vegetation contacting powerlines. Know the clearance zones for urban and rural properties.
  • Use a professional: Hire a qualified tree pruner or arborist to trim any vegetation that is too close to powerlines. Make sure you hire a professional who is accredited to work near the Western Power network, as it is very dangerous to trim trees anywhere near powerlines. The Tree Guild of WA has a list of powerline-qualified arborists.
  • Plant appropriately: By selecting appropriate plants for your property, you can reduce the need for pruning and save both time and money. You should avoid planting next to powerlines, or choose a low growing species that won’t encroach on the clearance zones for your area. Your local nursery can also help you choose the perfect plant for your environment.
  • Pack away loose debris: If a storm is coming to your area, you can prepare by putting away or securing loose materials. Wind borne debris can blow into overhead powerlines and cause power outages in your area.

Whose job is it to trim trees near powerlines?

Depending where the tree is located, it could be your responsibility, your neighbour’s or the local council/share. This article explains whose responsibility it is.

You’ve hit a power pole. Do you know what to do?

Step potential - the invisible danger

Vehicles contact power poles more often than you’d think.

If you crashed into a power pole and a powerline was draped across your vehicle, would you stay in the car or get out?

If you’re confronted with a fallen powerline, always assume it’s live. It all has to do with step potential.

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

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.

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. Remember, passers-by must stay at least eight metres away from the damaged line too.
  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 powerline on the ground, on top of your car or in your immediate vicinity.