SAN DIEGO, Aug. 27, 2012 – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is reminding customers of the importance of power line safety. Last week in Los Angeles, two good Samaritans were electrocuted when they came in contact with water that was electrically charged by a downed power line. According to news reports, a woman was trying to help pull a driver from a car accident when she stepped into the charged water and was electrocuted. A second victim was also electrocuted when they tried to rescue her from the scene.
“This was a horrific chain of events and this tragedy is a reminder that you should never touch or approach a downed power line or its surroundings,” said David L. Geier, vice president of electric operations for SDG&E. “The safety of our community is our number one priority and we advise our customers to always assume that any power line is ‘live’ and electricity is flowing through it.”
The company warns that electricity travels from a high voltage level to a low voltage location, which could be the ground or its surroundings. If a person touches a power line with their body or an object that can conduct electricity, the person and/or object becomes the path for the electricity to travel through to the ground. Such an incident can result in severe injury or death.
“If you encounter a downed power line, stay away from it and never touch the line or anyone or thing in contact with it,” added Geier. “Remain calm and immediately call 9-1-1 or SDG&E.”
Fallen electric lines are extremely dangerous. Report any downed lines to 9-1-1 and SDG&E immediately at 1-800-611-SDGE (7343). In an incident involving electric power lines, SDG&E offers the following guidelines:
Down or Broken Power Lines
If a person or piece of equipment comes in contact with an energized power line, or if a power line has fallen to the ground:
- Stay clear of the line and do not touch it.
- Call 9-1-1. Ask for the police department, fire department rescue service or SDG&E.
- Always assume that power lines are energized. If a person has come into contact with a power line, don’t touch the person or any equipment involved. The line may be still energized and could be extremely dangerous.
- Freeing a person or animal from energized power lines or equipment should only be attempted by a qualified electrical worker.
If a Vehicle is Involved
If a vehicle is involved and you are in it:
- Sit calmly until help arrives.
- Warn others not to touch the vehicle and direct them to call 9-1-1.
- If the vehicle is on fire and you must leave it, open the door or window and jump clear without touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Do not allow yourself to become a path of electricity from the vehicle to the ground.
- Be careful not to fall back against the vehicle and to avoid any wires on the ground.
Overhead Electric Lines Safety Tips
When you are working around electric overhead lines, follow these rules:
- Watch where you are going.
- Stay clear of the power line and never touch it.
- Keep all machinery, equipment, and materials such as scaffolding tools, boat masts, fruit-picking poles, antennas, satellite dishes, pool skimmers handles, metal ladders, etc., and people at least 10 feet away from the lines. If it looks like the lines will be in your way, call SDG&E at 1-800-411-SDGE (7343). Depending on the nature of your job, SDG&E might be able to turn off the electricity, cover the lines, or even move them temporarily while you complete your work.
- Do not remove anything caught in electric lines, not even an animal. Instead, call SDG&E immediately.
Underground Electric Lines Safety Tips
- Hazards you don’t see, like underground electric lines, are easy to ignore or forget. Digging, drilling or blasting can damage these underground lines and cause injury, electrocution or fire. To avoid an accident, call SDG&E’s Underground Alert Service at 1-800-227-2600. SDG&E will send someone to your site for free to show you exactly where our lines are buried.
- If you see an open SDG&E transformer or other piece of equipment, call SDG&E at 1-800-411-SDGE (7343) and we will investigate. Do not touch the equipment as this could lead to injury or death.
For other safety tips, please visit www.sdge.com/safety.
SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 850,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.