Tuesday, 19 October 2021: Touching low-hanging power lines can result in serious or fatal injuries. People have lost their lives or sustained serious burns after being electrocuted when making contact with electrical structures that have been vandalized or where power lines are close to or on the ground.
Overhead power lines are always suspended out of reach of people but when the poles collapse or fall over, the line can touch the ground or hang close to the ground, putting people and animals in danger. Sometimes lines hang low as a result of fire, wind, rain, lightning or even someone driving into the pole.
Remember that although the pole has fallen over, it is very likely that the lines are still live so they must never be touched. Do not try to move the line – rather avoid any power line when it is hanging low or touching the ground. These cables are dangerous and can shock or electrocute anyone that makes contact with them.
“The kind of unfortunate incidents where people get harmed after making contact with electrical equipment could happen to anyone. There have been instances where children have been injured after touching fallen power lines while playing, oblivious to the danger they pose,” says Miranda Moahlodi, Senior Manager for Occupational Health and Safety at Eskom.
Above all else, always consider all equipment, lines and conductors to be live. Be cautious and if you notice downed wires or damaged electrical equipment, contact the nearby Eskom office or your local municipality immediately. Remember that the electricity supply does not always turn off automatically when a power line falls into a tree or onto the ground. Even if they are not sparking or humming, fallen power lines can kill you if you touch it or even the ground nearby. Treat all electrical lines as live.
Colliding with an electricity pole
When you are in a car accident, it may be instinctive to get out of the vehicle as soon as possible. However, if your car hits an electricity pole, the safest place is often inside the car. When a car crashes into a power pole, the pole may fall down, lines may fall on your car or nearby, and the area around your car may become charged with electric energy. If you get out of the car, you could then be electrocuted.
Miranda says: “Rather stay in the car if you hit an electricity pole and the lines are lying on or close to your car, unless there is a fire or imminent situation that forces you to vacate the car before help arrives. Warn those who try to come near your car that they must stay far away. Call Eskom or the municipality as soon as possible and wait for them to switch off the line and come to your aid before getting out of the car.”
Please report any unsafe conditions or connections by calling 08600 ESKOM (37566).