Do not enter or contact vehicles that may be energized. Instead, instruct vehicle occupants to drive the vehicle away from the line if they can do so safely. Once they are at least 30 feet away from a downed distribution line – and 100 feet away from a downed transmission line – they can exit the vehicle normally.
If the vehicle cannot be safely moved, instruct occupants to stay put until utility personnel give the all clear.
If occupants must exit the vehicle due to fire or other imminent danger, instruct them on the “jump and shuffle” technique. From a safe distance, demonstrate and talk them through these steps:
Do NOT step out of the vehicle and do NOT touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
Jump clear of the vehicle and land with your feet together.
Shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground.
Continue shuffling until you are a safe distance away: at least 30 feet from a downed distribution line and at least 100 feet from a downed transmission line. These are minimum safety clearances. Always use the maximum possible distance.
If occupants are injured, disabled or otherwise unable to safely exit the vehicle, your incident commander will tell you how to proceed.
Vehicle rescue goes awry
A car that had struck a utility pole lay on its side with an injured passenger pinned inside, just two feet away from downed power lines. In an attempt to stabilize the vehicle, rescuers ran a steel winch cable below the sagging power lines and attached it to the car’s luggage rack. A fire chief, a firefighter, an EMT, and a bystander were holding the cable when the luggage rack pulled loose; it and the cable contacted the energized lines. The fire chief and bystander were both killed; the firefighter and EMT were severely burned.
If National Grid does not distribute electricity in your department’s response area, please coordinate your incident response with the appropriate local electric utility.