In case of accidental contact with power lines, the key is to stay calm and follow our key safety steps for
downed power lines.
Consequences of coming into contact with a power line
Electric shock, burns or Arc Flash burns that occur from direct or indirect contact with electrical infrastructure are serious injuries and could result in death.
Electric shock can cause damage to the nerves and organs in the body, especially the heart (can cause fibrillation).
Electric burns produced by contact with a power source can be mild, superficial or severe depending on the circumstances of the contact. Exterior electrical burns can be misleading because most of the damage occurs underneath the skin – these burns are often said to develop from the inside out and will continue to progress hours after the contact, often resulting in loss of a limb.
Arc Flash burns are thermal burns resulting from high intensity (short duration) heat and light, these are accompanied by a pressure wave blast with a force of up to 1,000 pounds. Arc Flash events can ignite or melt clothing resulting in further burns, and can also cause burns to the eyes and respiratory tract. Victims often require grafts or amputations, death is a possibility with the increased severity of the burn and percent of body area affected. The pressure blast of an arc flash can result in impact injury from being thrown, falling from a height, or colliding with nearby objects. Hearing loss may also result from the blast.
If you witness or are aware of an electrical injury, before anything else you must remember that your first priority is to ensure your own safety.
- Do not attempt to help a person who has been electrically shocked or burned until the source of electricity has been removed.
- Call 911 to report the injury.
- If it is safe to do so, provide First Aid Measures by assessing consciousness, checking for pulse and circulation and treatment of burns, if possible. Focus on life saving measures as instructed in First Aid. Note: These type of injuries are usually far beyond first aid measures and require a timely and professional medical response.