I don’t always think of this tragedy, but whenever I see power lines near homes, I can’t help but think of it. I won’t say any names out of respect for those who had to endure this, but I was involved with a family as a coach about 4 years ago when one of my students’ suffered a terrible loss. It was a windy and rainy day on the north side of the city where I taught. Most of the homes in this area are much older homes. They were built anywhere between the 40’s and 70’s when power lines sat among the neighborhoods. You hardly notice them when you go into older, more established neighborhoods, but they’re there. My student’s dad noticed that in the back yard, a power line had broken and fallen into the yard. It looked very dangerous, it was sparking at the end and the ground was still moist from the rain. Nobody knows quite why, but he immediately rushed outside and attempted to move the line out of danger. He was immediately electrocuted. While he was being electrocuted, his wife ran out to try and save him. She was electrocuted as well. There was a 16 year-old son in the house who tried to save his mom and dad, who was also electrocuted. Two children remained in the house, one was a 13 year-old girl and a 9 year-old boy. They lost their family in a quick instant.
This story was heart-breaking to me. Not only was it extremely tragic, in my opinion, it could have been avoided with a little education. The electric company paid for the funerals because they had been called by several people in the neighborhood in the past that a power line looked as if it was going to fall. They never addressed the issue. At the very least, they could have passed out informational flyers that explained what to do if something like this occurred. Of course, those flyers happened, but not until this loss was suffered. It made me wonder, what would I do in a situation like that? If I felt like my home and family were in danger? I don’t know. I can say I would not go out there and touch the line, who knows though what I would do if I felt my family was in danger.
I decided to write this blog and try to educate myself and anyone who reads it, what should be done if this happens to them. Here are the rules: Never, ever touch a downed power line or go near one. Power lines are not insulated like power cords. Always assume the power line is live. Not only don’t touch a fallen power line, but also anything touching the wire. Do not touch anything or anyone in contact with a fallen power line or other equipment, as it will pass the electric current to you. Always keep children and pets away from fallen electric wires. Do not drive over a fallen power line, it could electrocute you or catch your car on fire. Call 911 immediately to report a fallen power line. This is something that emergency personnel take very serious. They know the severity of the consequences if anyone comes into contact with such a powerful instrument.
Sometimes a power line can fall and hit your car. If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed power line: Stay inside! The safest place is in your car. The ground around your car may be energized. Honk the horn, roll down your window and yell for help. Warn others to stay away as anyone who touches the equipment or ground around the vehicle may be injured. If possible, use your mobile phone to call 911. Once they get there, fire department, police and PG&E workers will tell you when it is safe to get out of the car. Scary stuff and like I said, I know someone whose life was gravely and tremendously affected by this. I hope you never see a downed power line, but if you do, I hope this blog tells you something that will stick and save your life. Safe travels my friends!