With Spring weather kicking into full effect, home improvements and inclement weather are in abundance. One thing that these have in common is the possibility of encountering power lines. Whether it is overhead power lines near your home or a downed power line from a storm, there are several things one must know to stay protected and avoid risk of electrocution.

Whenever you see a power line, always assume that they are energized and ensure you do not come too close to the power line. The minimum safe distance from overhead power lines and their connections is 10 feet away. When working on your home, make sure to look up and locate any places that there are overhead lines. If you are using a ladder outdoors, make sure to use a wooden or fiberglass ladder as metal ladders conduct electricity. Also, make sure to carry ladders and equipment horizontally to make sure they do not come in contact with lines incidentally.

Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage zone, and it could do it through your body. Downed power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury and even death. If you come across a downed power line, make sure to stay at least 35 feet away from the line and anything that the line is touching, such as a fence, tree limb, or even the ground it is lying on. If you find yourself in this unfortunate position, the proper way to move away from the power line is to shuffle away with small steps, always keeping your feet together and on the ground. This will minimize the potential for a strong electrical shock. Also, do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything else in contact with it by using an object such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materialize like wood or cloth can conduct electricity if even slightly wet. It is important to also not touch or step in water near where a downed power line is located. Once you are in a safe zone away from a downed power line, call 911 immediately.

Lastly, if you find yourself in a vehicle around a downed power line, do not drive over the line. If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed power line while you are inside, stay in the car, honk your horn to summon help, and direct the others to stay away from your car. If you ultimately must leave your car because it is on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with both the car and the ground at the same time. Then proceed to shuffle away from the car.

Remember, always assume that power lines are energized and there is the potential risk of electrocution if you get too close to them. Make sure to stay at least 10 feet away from any overhead lines and 35 feet away from any downed power line and objects that the line is touching, including the ground. If you find yourself in this position, shuffle away with small steps, always keeping your feet together and on the ground.

For additional Electrical Safety at Home and Work, please visit The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)