Stay away from downed power lines following a storm

March 18, 2016

Lines could be energized; let trained crews respond

Columbus, Neb. – It’s that time of year. With Nebraska Severe Weather Week (March 21-25) approaching, it is important for the public to understand what to do if faced with downed power lines and potential power outages.

“We do our best to avoid interruptions to electric service for our retail and wholesale customers we serve,” explained Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD Transmission and Distribution Manager Joel Dagerman. “They can be devastating to property and take down power lines, creating a dangerous situation for the public, including line crews working to get power restored.”

Restoration depends on the extent of a storm’s destruction, the number of customers impacted, and how safe it is for utility personnel to access damaged areas. Crews may have to clear downed power lines, repair transmission and distribution lines, and substations, and ensure public health and safety facilities are operational.

“Let downed power lines remain where they are,” explained Dagerman. “The public cannot assume that, just because a power line is damaged or on the ground, it is not live. Every downed power line is potentially energized and dangerous until utility crews arrive on the scene to ensure power has been cut off. Downed power lines, stray wires, and debris in contact with them all have the potential to deliver a fatal shock.

“If you do come in contact with a downed power line, do not leave the car. Wait for utility and emergency professionals to make sure the power line is de-energized before exiting the car,” he said.

Other storm safety tips and considerations include

  • Turn off electrical appliances and unplug major electronics, including computers and televisions. Power sometimes comes back in surges, which can damage electronics. Leave one light on to indicate that power has been restored, then wait a few minutes and begin turning other electronics on.
  • Never enter a flooded basement if electrical outlets are submerged. The water could be energized. Do not turn power off, if you must stand in water to do so. Call your electric utility, and have them turn off power at the meter.
  • Before entering storm-damaged buildings, make sure electricity and gas are turned off.
  • Download NPPD’s mobile app to report an outage, view outage areas, and catch the latest news on storm restoration activities by NPPD.

Visit for a complete list of tips.

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