Stay away from downed power lines

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

The 19th century English writer John Ruskin once wrote that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

With all due respect to Ruskin, there would likely be many in Northeast Oklahoma that would disagree with his assessment. Most of us around here do not have to reach too far back into our memory banks to recall tornados, floods, droughts that linger on and, yes, ice storms. 

Cold and icy blast from the past … GRDA linemen work to restore power inside an ice-covered substation following a major ice storm in 2007. While no one wants to experience an ice storm, it is important to be prepared. Part of that preparation is an understanding of the dangers of power lines that have fallen under the weight of ice and snow.

Cold and icy blast from the past … GRDA linemen work to restore power inside an ice-covered substation following a major ice storm in 2007. While no one wants to experience an ice storm, it is important to be prepared. Part of that preparation is an understanding of the dangers of power lines that have fallen under the weight of ice and snow.

It’s been six years now since the area experienced a January 2007 ice storm that left miles of electric lines on the ground, damaged substations and prompted restoration efforts that went on for months. While thousands were affected by the lingering ice, cold and lack of electricity, GRDA and other utilities worked round-the-clock to restore power and rebuild electric lines.

While no one wants to go through that kind of ice storm again, it is important for individuals to be prepared. Part of that preparation should be an understanding of the dangers of power lines that have fallen under the weight of ice and snow. What follows are a collection of safety tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (esfi.org) and other sources. GRDA passes them along in hopes you will have a safe winter, no matter what weather may come your way:

1. Always assume fallen power lines are energized. Stay at least ten feet away from a downed power line and any nearby objects it may be touching, such as a fence or a tree limb.

2. Remember, a power line does not need to be sparking or arcing to be energized, even if it is sagging close to or on the ground.

3. Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.

4. Do not drive over downed power lines

5. Contact your utility company immediately to report downed power lines outside your home.

6. Never touch a person who is in contact with a downed power line. Call 911 immediately.

7. Never attempt to move a downed power line with another object. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth that are slightly wet can conduct electricity.
Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75-plus years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          — Justin Alberty
                                                                                                                                                                                                        GRDA Corporate Communications Director

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