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The top priority for Iowa’s electric cooperatives is to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to their members.

May is National Electrical Safety Month. Not only does the month bring spring storms and potentially severe weather, but it also heralds the beginning of the celebration season for many high school students, especially seniors. Proms, graduation parties and other social gatherings are often associated with this time of year.

Does your teen or loved one know what to do in the event of a collision with a utility pole resulting in a downed power line? Do your loved ones know what to do if they come upon an accident with a downed power line? The following tips are good reminders for people of all ages and may be especially helpful for youngsters unfamiliar with electrical hazards.

Life-saving tips

If a car collides with a utility pole, the vehicle may be charged with electricity. Anyone exiting the car could encounter thousands of volts of electricity from the downed line. When you step out of the car, you become part of the electricity’s path to the ground and could be electrocuted. Stay in the vehicle and tell others to do the same until emergency crews have 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 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. 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 falling 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. You may be anxious to clear your property of tree limbs or other debris near the downed line but wait until after an electric co-op crew, or emergency officials have confirmed that it is safe to do so.

Most accidents are preventable

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, thousands of people in the U.S. are critically injured and electrocuted as a result of electrical fires, accidents and electrocution in their own homes. Many of these accidents are preventable.

We know firsthand how dangerous electricity is because Iowa’s electric cooperatives work with it all day, every day.

Contact your local electric co-op for additional electrical safety tips or if you would like to request a safety demonstration at your school or community event. It is no accident that safety is our top priority.  

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