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Drew: Downed Power Lines After a High Wind Event

By Samuetta Hill Drew

Last week we began a short series about personal safety tips to follow during high straight line winds. Winds so powerful that their force can simulate the destruction caused by a tornado.
Let’s continue this safety conversation with measures to use relative to downed power lines after a high wind event. Begin by reporting any downed power lines to Alabama Power Company’s emergency center and the police department. DO NOT try to free lines or remove debris yourself. Do not go near downed power lines.
Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches. Puddles or even wet or snow-covered ground can conduct electricity in some cases. Warn others to stay away.
If you see someone who has been shocked, who may be in direct or indirect contact with a power line, DO NOT try to touch them. You may become a second victim. Get medical attention as quickly as possible by calling 911.
If you are driving during high straight-line winds, try to identify a sturdy building and drive near it. Otherwise, move your car to a location where it is less likely to be hit by falling trees or power lines. Find a place that can block blowing or falling lines and debris. Avoid trees, power lines and the side of the road. Keep a distance from high profile vehicles such as trucks, buses, and vehicles towing trailers. One strong gust of wind can be enough to flip one of these trailers onto its side.
If a line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Be very cautious not to touch any of the metal in your vehicle. Honk your horn, roll down the window and warn anyone who may approach the danger. Ask someone to call the police immediately. DO NOT EXIT the car until help arrives unless it catches on fire. Exit then by opening the door, but do not step out! Rather JUMP, without touching any of the metal portions of the car’s exterior, to safe ground and get quickly away.
To help Keep an Eye on Safety during a high wind advisory, continue to listen to the local news and NOAA Weather Radio for updates during and after the high wind event.