Accidents happen. But do you know what to do if you’ve hit an utility pole? Having the right information could be the difference between life and death. Make sure you follow these directions if you ever find yourself in a power line emergency.

1. Never assume a power line is dead. The electrical current doesn’t always turn off when a power line is down. Even if it shows no signs of life (arcing, smoking, buzzing or popping) it may still be energized. Always treat a downed wire as if it’s energized and could seriously injure or kill you.

2. Warn others to stay away. If you’ve been in an accident, someone may run over to help you. However, you should warn people away if you’re able. Power lines are dangerous, and no one should come near them until the power has been shut off by Dakota Energy or another the electric utility company.

3. Stay in your vehicle. If you run into an utility pole, it’s almost always best to stay in your vehicle. If a wire has fallen, your vehicle is the safest place for you to be. The vehicle acts as a path for the electrical current to travel through and reach the ground. If you’re in the vehicle you’re safe, but if you get out, you could be electrocuted. If you can, warn others to stay away from the vehicle and call the local authorities or nearest electric utility so power can be shut off.

4. Know how to exit the vehicle safely. You should only attempt to leave your vehicle if it is on fire or you believe your life is in danger. It’s important that you don’t touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. To exit as safely as possible, you should jump from the vehicle, keeping your feet together, and hop away from the scene.

5. Call Dakota Energy or 911. Live power lines are dangerous and take priority with our crews. If you find yourself in this situation, or witness someone who is, call us or 911 immediately. Once we’re aware of a problem we will send crews to address the problem as soon as possible. Down power lines and poles can be reported to Dakota Energy 24 hours per day. Call us at 605-352-8591 or toll free at 800-353-8591.