Power lines can come down for lots of reasons – for example, during a storm or in a car accident.
Fallen lines that are energised are called ‘live wires'. Treat all fallen lines as ‘live' and dangerous. If you are in a car or a bus and a power line comes down on it, you must stay in the vehicle until help arrives. If you have to get out of the vehicle because of fire or other life-threatening hazards, jump clear of the vehicle so that you do not touch any part of the car and the ground at the same time. Jump as far away as possible from the vehicle with both feet landing on the ground at the same time.
Once you clear the vehicle, hop away with only one foot on the ground. Watch you don't go near lines on the ground or hanging in the air.
A live wire may spark and whip around as it looks for ‘a ground'. A ground is the earth or something touching the earth, like a fence or a tree. Make sure it isn't you, if you are nearby. A live wire that has found its ground may lie silently, but it is still dangerous.
Fallen power lines are very common. Did you know that in Auckland alone, there is, on average, one incident a day – like power lines that have come down in extreme weather or because of a car accident?
If you are in a car that's crashed into a pole here's what you must do:
Stay in the car - you are safe from electric shock so long as you stay in the car.
If you must leave the car before help arrives – because of smoke coming from the car or other danger - jump clear and be careful not to touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. This is so the body doesn't create a path for electricity to flow from the vehicle to the ground.
Hop away from the car until at least 6 metres away.
Never go near a car that has fallen lines on it or around it or you could be shocked. Tell any people inside the car to stay there and then call 111 for help. Tell the operator your name, the address/location of the accident and explain what has happened.
111 IS THE EMERGENCY NUMBER IN NEW ZEALAND FOR FIRE, POLICE and AMBULANCE