Public Safety 

Downed Power Lines 

Use extra caution near downed power lines. Dealing with downed lines requires additional measures to protect life and property.

  • Park emergency vehicles away from fallen lines. The ground and objects in the vicinity of a fallen power line may be energized. Wait for utility personnel to give the all clear.
  • Secure the area.
    • Keep yourself and the public at least 30 feet away from fallen power lines. Always remember that objects and even the ground near downed lines may also be energized.
    • Transmission lines from large towers require a distance of 100 feet. In any incident involving downed lines, recall that wind as well as electric charge can cause lines to whip and move. Observing these expanded clearances can help protect everyone from the unexpected.
    • Never touch or attempt to move fallen lines or objects contacting them. Doing so endangers you and incident victims. Contact NIPSCO immediately so they can deenergize the scene.
    • Never use a solid water stream to fight fires near downed lines. If you must use water to extinguish a fire near downed lines, use only a fog or spray, and be extremely cautious.
  • Use extra caution near downed power lines. When incident victims are in or around the energized area, particularly in vehicles that have contacted power lines, remember that both you and they are safest staying put.
    • Do not enter, approach, or contact areas or vehicles that may be energized. Resist the temptation to attempt to extract passengers. You risk both your own and the victims’ safety when you enter the energized area. Instead, stay away. You chose this work to save lives, and that instinct is strong. However, in this case, if you enter the energized area, you have a very high risk of electric shock. Becoming a victim yourself puts everyone in greater danger.
    • Call NIPSCO immediately. They will respond quickly and de-energize the scene.
    • Instruct victims to drive the vehicle away from the line if this can be done safely. Keeping your distance, find a position where passengers can see you without exiting or moving around inside the vehicle and attempt to reassure them.
    • If the vehicle cannot be moved, instruct the occupants to stay put until utility personnel give the all clear. Staying in the vehicle is their best protection against electric shock. Tell them utility personnel are on the way to turn off the electricity; to stay put; and to try to relax. If passengers are injured or panicked, talk with them, keep them calm and alert, and use the wait time to prepare medical assistance.
  • Use extra caution near downed power lines. In some cases, fire or other hazards make it impossible for victims to remain in the vehicle.
  • If occupants in an energized vehicle are in imminent danger from fire or other hazards, you must resist the temptation to approach the vehicle. Contacting an energized vehicle is a sure way to become a shock victim yourself! Follow these procedures to get everyone out alive.
    • Instruct them to jump clear without contacting the vehicle and the ground at the same time.Find a vantage point where victims in the vehicle can see and hear you, but keep your distance.
    • Tell them to shuffle away keeping both feet together and on the ground at the same time.
    • Emphasize that they must not run or take long steps.
    • Demonstrate the proper procedure from a distance. Show occupants how to perform the jump-and-shuffle procedure from a visible distance before they attempt their escape.
    • If victims are injured, disabled, or otherwise unable to safely exit the vehicle on their own, your incident commander will tell you how to proceed. Wait for instructions before taking action or you could become another victim.