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May 8, 2019

Safety tips that can save your life

Electric cooperatives’ top priority is always to provide safe, reliable, affordable energy to our members. Your wellbeing and that of the larger communities we serve are of paramount concern.

May is Electrical Safety Month, which is a good time to share and review safety tips that could save the lives of you and your family. Do you and your loved ones know what to do in the event of a collision with a utility pole resulting in a downed power line? Do you and your loved ones know what to do if you come upon an accident with a downed power line? I’d like to share a few safety tips that I hope you never have to use. But if you do, they could save your life.

Life-saving tips 

If a car collides with a utility pole, the vehicle may be charged with electricity. Anyone exiting the car could come in contact with thousands of volts of electricity from the downed line. In essence, when you step out of the car, you become part of the electricity’s path to the ground and could be electrocuted. It’s critical to stay in the vehicle, and tell others to do the same, until an emergency crew has told you it’s safe to exit the car. If the vehicle is on fire or you
must exit for other safety reasons, jump clear of the vehicle. Do not let any part of your body or clothing touch the vehicle and ground at the same time. Land
with your feet together and shuffle away (in small steps with your feet still together) to avoid electric shock. 

Keep moving away until you are at least 40 feet from the vehicle. If you come upon a car accident involving a utility pole and downed power lines, keep your distance. A downed power line can energize the ground up to 35 feet away. While your natural instinct may be to rush to the car to help, instead pause. Do not approach the car or scene of the accident. Tell others to stay away. While you may be concerned about injuries to those involved, the best action you can take is to alert emergency officials, who will in turn coordinate with the power provider. For the same reasons described above, never drive over a downed power line or through water that is touching a downed power line.

If you have a downed power line on your property as a result of a fallen tree, storm or other circumstance, do not go near the power line. Assume that the downed line is energized and dangerous. Never try to move the power line even if you think it’s not energized or if you are using a non-conductive material. We recognize that you may be anxious to clear your property of tree limbs or other debris near the downed line, but please wait until after an electric
co-op crew or emergency officials have confirmed that it is safe to do so. 

Keeping our communities safe 

We know first hand how important it is to be aware of the potential dangers of electricity because Arkansas’ electric cooperatives work with it all day, every day. To me, safety is more than a catch phrase. I view it as my duty and responsibility to keep co-op employees safe and to help keep our communities safe.

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