Westport FD: ‘Assume that all downed power lines are live’
WESTPORT — After a downed wire went on fire in Sherwood Island State Park after being knocked down by the earlier storms Saturday, Westport firefighters are reminding residents to never touch or approach a downed wire.
“In the aftermath of a storm, be aware of hazards presented by downed power lines,” fire officials warned. “Downed power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or even death.”
Officials said anyone who spots a downed power line should move away from it, especially since the ground around power lines — up to 35 feet away — can be energized by it.
“You cannot tell whether or not a power line is energized just by looking at it,” officials said. “You should assume that all downed power lines are live.”
The best way to move away from the power line is to shuffle away with small steps, feet together and on the ground at all times. Officials said this method will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock.
Anyone who sees someone in direct or indirect contact with a downed line should not touch the person.
“You could become the next victim,” officials warned.
Instead, call 911 for help.
Don’t ever use a broom or stick to move a downed power line or something in contact with one. Even non-conductive materials — including wood or cloth — can conduct electricity if they are even slightly wet.
With water causing trouble in situations like this, officials said to be careful not to touch or step in any water near a downed power line.
And anyone thinking they’ll be safe to drive over one should think again.
“If your car comes in contact with a downed power line while you are inside, stay in the car,” officials said. “Honk your horn to summon help, but direct others to stay away from your car.”
If the vehicle catches fire, jump out with both feet together and avoid coming into contact with the ground and your vehicle at the same time. Then, shuffle away from the car until you’re a safe distance away.