Stay Safe When a Power Line Is Down

Know What to Do When Hazards Strike

Downed power lines

Be aware of hazards presented by downed power lines. Your life or the life of someone else depends on it.

Never Touch a Downed Power Line

Never touch anything or anyone in contact with a power line. You could be shocked by contact with the line or a secondary object or person.

When a live wire touches the ground, electricity fans out through the ground, similar to when a pebble hits water. You could be shocked when in the area of a downed power line. The minimum safe distance from a downed power line is 35 feet.

  • Consider all wires energized and dangerous. Even de-energized lines may become energized at any time.
  • Stay at least 35 feet away from downed lines.
  • Electricity can travel through the ground, fences, hoses, and playscapes. A live wire, either on the ground or in trees, can harm you, even if you don't directly touch the line.
  • Electricity can also travel through tree limbs. Never remove tree limbs or other items touching or near a downed wire. Call Austin Energy at 512-322-9100 to report the tree limb.
  • Never use any object to move a downed wire.
  • Rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes will not protect you from electrocution.
  • Do not try to rescue someone who makes contact with a downed power line. You risk becoming a victim yourself. Call 9-1-1.

How to Report a Downed Power Line

Call Austin Energy at 512-322-9100 to report the location of the line.

When a Vehicle Comes in Contact with a Power Line

If a broken power line falls on your vehicle and you cannot safely drive away:

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Warn others not to touch the vehicle. Ask them to call 9-1-1 if you are unable to call.
  • Do not leave the vehicle unless it becomes unsafe due to immediate dangers, such as fire or smoke. You may leave the vehicle when someone from Austin Energy tells you it is safe to do so. 
  • If you must leave the vehicle because of fire or other danger, jump as far away from the vehicle as possible. Land with both feet on the ground at the same time. 
  • Never touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. 
  • After exiting the vehicle, keep your feet together and "hop" away. Don't run! Never lift a foot. You must either shuffle your feet in tiny steps, with your feet never leaving the ground, or you can hop keeping your feet together. Separating your feet can create two contact points with the ground and can result in a shock if the ground is energized by a fallen wire.

If you observe a fallen power line on a vehicle:

  • Stay at least 35 feet away from the downed line.
  • If someone is in the vehicle, call 9-1-1.
  • Call Austin Energy at 512-322-9100 and report the location of the line.
  • Do not approach or make contact with the person or vehicle. Wait for emergency personnel.
Date last reviewed or modified: 05/17/2019