red car under a downed powerline

Vehicle Safety

What to do if a powerline falls on your vehicle

Always assume a downed powerline is energized and dangerous. Stay back at least 10 metres (about the length of a school bus) from powerlines.

what to do if a powerline falls on your car

Stay inside the vehicle

  • Do not attempt to remove the downed wire!
  • Inform everyone around you to stay 10 metres back; this includes first responders.
  • If you can safely drive out from under the wire or away from the source of electricity, do so. Drive at least the length of a bus (about 10 metres or 33 feet) before stopping. Do not drive over the powerline because it may get tangled around your wheels.
  • If you can't drive the vehicle away, stay where you are. Call 911 and the local utility. Wait until the local utility worker tells you when it’s safe to exit your vehicle.
  • Only exit the vehicle if you must get out to stay safe (such as a fire), but follow these steps:
    • Remove any loose-fitting clothing so no part of your body or your clothing touches the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
    • With the door open, prepare to jump by tucking your elbows into your stomach and keeping your hands clasped close to your chest.
    • Jump out and make sure you land with your feet together without touching the vehicle. Don't try to jump far.
    • Move away from the vehicle, using the shuffle technique below.
Shuffle Technique — When you shuffle away from the vehicle, ensure your feet do not lift off the ground and are always touching each other. The inside of your heel should still be touching the toe of the other foot when you start to move the other leg forward. Using the shuffle technique, your feet and legs cannot form a circuit so electricity from the ground will not travel through you. (A downed powerline creates a voltage gradient on the ground surface. When walking, your feet and legs can act as a bridge between two areas of different voltages, and can form a circuit for electricity to travel through.)

 

Here's a helpful video that outlines these safety tips:

 

If you're outside the vehicle

  • Stay back at least 10 metres. You and everyone around you should keep the length of a school bus away.
  • If you can communicate with people in the vehicle, tell them to stay inside the vehicle.
  • Call 911 and the local utility.
  • Wait for help to arrive.