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Vehicle and power line accidents can be deadly; what you need to know

Fri, May 31st, 2013
Posted in Rushford Ask the Expert

Rushford, Minn. - With a close call locally and a fatality in Bigfork, Minn., all within a few days of each other, Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TEC) wants to spread the word about what to do if your vehicle comes in contact with a power line.

On Tuesday, May 22 TEC crews arrived to a potentially fatal accident along Hwy. 30 west of Pilot Mound where a car hit and broke a power line pole. No one from the vehicle was at the scene. The power line was still energized when crews arrived.

“The occupants of the vehicle should consider themselves lucky to be alive,” says Brian Krambeer, TEC’s president/CEO. “Tragically, many drivers and passengers who survive a car accident involving a power line are electrocuted when they attempt to leave the vehicle. In the vast majority of cases, the safest action is to stay inside the vehicle until the local utility arrives to assure the lines are de-energized.”

Tragedy hit northern Minnesota where North Itasca Electric Cooperative, Inc., of Bigfork reported that on Friday, May 17, a vehicle hit a power line pole and a passerby who stopped to render assistance to the driver grabbed a power line that was still energized. Attempts to resuscitate the victim were unsuccessful.

What should you do if your vehicle comes in contact with a power line?

•Call or signal for help. It is safe to use a cell phone if you have one.

•Warn others who may be nearby to stay away and wait until the electric utility arrives to make sure power to the line is cut off.

•The only exception would be if fire or other danger, like the smell of gasoline, is present. In that case, the proper action is to jump – not step—with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Jump clear. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Hop to safety keeping both feet together as you leave the area. Like the ripples of a pond or lake, the voltage diminishes the farther out it is from the source. Stepping from one voltage level to another allows the body to become a path for electricity.

•The same rules apply with situations involving farm and construction equipment that comes in contact with electric lines. Those working with large equipment should stay inside the vehicle if the equipment extensions come in contact with power lines.

To view a video on what on what to do if your vehicle comes in contact with a power line, visit > News > YouTube Channel.

Tri-County Electric Cooperative is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving three counties in Minnesota including Winona, Houston and Fillmore and parts of Olmsted and Mower counties in Minnesota and Howard, Winneshiek and Allamakee counties in Iowa. It provides electricity to more than 12,800 services in the area. TEC is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.

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