MEC Warns of Added Danger in Car Accidents with Power Poles
In the midst of winter storm season, Macon Electric Cooperative urges all drivers to be safe when traveling and to take extra care when the roads become snow-covered or icy.
According to the National Safety Council, one in 113 people die in a motor vehicle accident. However, not all fatalities occur during an accident. If the driver or passengers survive the accident, the risk does not always end there. When a car wreck involves a utility pole, there is an added danger.
“Knowing what actions to take to stay safe can make the difference between life and death. After any car wreck, it is natural for people to want to get out of the car. However, when the wreck involves a utility pole, it is dangerous to leave the vehicle unless absolutely necessary,” says Dan Ulhorn, MEC Safety and Training Coordinator.
If there is a car accident with a power pole, the vehicle may be charged with electricity. If the driver or passengers step out, they could become the electricity’s path to the ground and could be electrocuted. Loose wires and other equipment may be in close range and in contact with the car—again creating a risk for electrocution if someone steps out of the vehicle.
Remember, you cannot see, hear, or smell electricity. People typically assume that electricity will make a sound, give off a burning smell, or emit sparks. However, this is not always the case. Lines, and any objects that might be in contact with the line, do not always show signs of being energized.
“After an accident, stay in the car, and tell others to do the same,” explains Ulhorn. “Call emergency and utility services. Until utility crews ensure the power is cut off, staying in the vehicle is safest.”
If there is someone approaching the accident scene, warn them to stay away until utility professionals have confirmed that there are no electrical dangers.
The only reason that a person should exit the vehicle is if it is on fire. If someone must exit the vehicle, jump clear of it with feet together and without touching the vehicle and ground at the same time. Then the person should bunny hop, with both feet still together, to safety. Doing this will ensure that there will not be different potential of electric current running from one foot to another.
Ulhorn adds, “If you have witnessed or come upon an accident, be sure to never approach the accident scene if a utility pole or lines are involved. Stay back, warn others to stay away, and call for help. Make sure the occupants of the car stay inside the vehicle until the utility has arrived to de-energize the lines.”
Macon Electric Cooperative encourages all motorists to drive safely and to avoid any distracted driving.