1500 Jacksonville residents on the north side of town experienced a power outage for nearly an hour after a truck left a roadway and downed a power pole last night. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, motorists hit more than 3000 power poles each year in the state.
Brian Bretsch, Communications Executive for Ameren-Illinois reminds motorists what they should do if they get in a situation where a power pole comes in contact with their car. “If your vehicle comes into contact with power lines in any scenario, the main thing that you want to remember is to stay inside your vehicle. In all honesty, it’s the safest place to be. Human instinct is to get out and assess for damage, but once that power line comes down and it’s energized, it’s actually looking for the path to ground. It actually energizes the ground around the vehicle. If you happen to step out of your vehicle, you create that path to ground and you could be electrocuted or killed.”
Bretsch says that if you notice that your vehicle is on fire and you need to leave the vehicle, there is a special process you have to go through to get out: “If you notice that there is smoke or fire with your vehicle, you can exit the vehicle. What you need to do is turn your body, not touch any parts of the vehicle. You want to get into a small position. Cross your arms. Bend your knees and hop out of the vehicle, landing with both feet and simply bunny hopping away from the vehicle or shuffling your feet.” To remove yourself from danger, Ameren recommends shuffling or bunny hopping away from your car by at least 35 feet to prevent an arcing electrocution.
Bretsch says that during the winter months its best to not be distracted while driving to avoid power pole accidents on slick roadways. He says that if you do witness a power pole accident, don’t approach the vehicle but to call 9-1-1. He also says to not drive across a power line laying across a road. To report a downed power line or a potential power pole problem, you can call Ameren-Illinois at 1-800-755-5000.