Accident Safety: I Hit a Power Pole or Other Electrical Equipment. Now What?DEC crew helps to remove power pole and line from tractor

We all think it will never happen to us, but it can and in an instant!

Drivers veer off the road and run into a utility pole. Producers sometimes make contact with a power line while driving tractors or other machinery. Dump or feed truck drivers raise or lower their box and snag a power line. A construction worker makes contact with their construction equipment.

People can become dangerously close or enter electricity’s path. Knowing what to do in that situation can save your life. Incidents with power lines or other utility equipment break the electrical current’s usual path. This can make the ground, vehicles and other equipment electrified.

If you hit a utility pole, pad-mounted transformer (“green box”) or other electrical equipment, DO NOT get out of the vehicle or cab. Instead, call 9-1-1 and wait for utility crews to come and deenergize power. Here are some examples; in all instances, call 9-1-1:

  • Your tractor or car strikes a guy wire (guy wires are the wires staked into the ground that stabilize utility poles). Under normal conditions, the guy wire is stable, but if the wire is weakened, pulled out of the ground or otherwise damaged, it could become energized.
  • Your vehicle hits a patch of ice and goes off the road and hits a utility pole. Only get out of the car if there is smoke or a fire; otherwise, stay put. If there is a fire, make a clean jump or hop from your vehicle (without touching it), and hop with your feet together at least 50 feet to safety. Think of the downed line sending electrical current across the ground in a ripple-like effect. Each ring of the ripple represents a different voltage. If you step from one ring to another, this is called step potential and it can electrocute you.
  • You see an accident that involves a downed power line. DO NOT approach the scene.
  • You hit a pad-mounted transformer or other type of electrical box.
  • Your vehicle hits a substation fencing or equipment.
  • You ran off the road, hit a pole and it’s dark out, but YOU DON’T KNOW if the lines are down.

Other situations

  • You get something stuck in power lines (drone or remote-control device): Do not try to retrieve it: call Dakota Energy at 1-800-353-8591 or (605) 352-8591.
  • You see kids climbing or sitting on pad-mounted transformers: Tell them not to sit or play on it.
  • You are carrying a tall ladder, pipe or pole: Look up for power line locations and keep at least a 10-foot clearance at all times.
  • You see kids climb trees that have power lines above: Warn them not to climb trees near power lines.
  • You are using a portable generator: Never plug it into a wall outlet. This can cause backfeeding into the line and kill a lineworker or neighbor.

More information