Overhead Power Lines
Be aware of overhead power lines. When overhead lines are present at an incident scene, remember a few simple safety rules.
- Park emergency vehicles as far away as possible from overhead power lines. You don’t want to be surprised by a falling power line.
- Keep all aerial equipment at least 10 feet away from overhead lines. Remember the 10-foot rule and that metal ladders are conductors. Be aware that wind can move aerial equipment, and when possible, assign a spotter to monitor your equipment’s proximity to power lines. Remember that higher voltages require greater clearances, and always use the maximum possible distance. (A good rule of thumb is to maintain a safety clearance that is greater than the length of the equipment when extended.)
- Never use a solid water stream to fight fires near overhead power lines. A solid stream can create a clear path for electric current. When overhead lines are in the vicinity of a fire, you can, with extreme care, use a spray or mist. But remember that ALL water is a conductor and always be extremely cautious when using water around overhead lines.
- Be aware of overhead power lines. Remember that anything touching a power line may be energized.
- If your equipment contacts a power line, the most important thing to do is remain calm and stay put.
- The equipment should be considered energized, as should the power line.
- Call NIPSCO immediately.
- If you can do so safely, move the equipment away from the power line.
- If the equipment cannot be moved, stay put, and warn others to stay away until utility personnel give the all clear. All personnel on the equipment should remain there. This is your safest course of action. Utility personnel will respond quickly, switch off the power, and tell you when it is safe to get off. Wait for their instructions.
- Be aware of overhead power lines. In some cases, other hazards such as fire make it impossible to stay on the energized equipment until utility personnel give the all clear.
- If fire or other imminent danger forces you off the equipment:
- Jump clear, keeping both feet together and without touching the equipment and the ground at the same time. If you do, you will become electricity’s path to the ground and you will be seriously—or fatally—shocked. Make every attempt to land on both feet at the same time.
- Shuffle away with small steps, keeping both feet together and on the ground at all times.
- Do not run or take long steps. When equipment contacts a line, electricity spreads out in the ground like ripples in a pond and the voltage decreases with distance from the point of contact. If your legs bridge two areas of different voltage you could be killed.