Thankfully Hurricane Matthew didn’t bring the level of devastation it was capable of, but it did leave many people without power. It’s a good time to review safety around the downed power lines and electrical wires that are likely all over the east coast of Florida.

Following hurricane protocol, you hopefully unplugged any electrical equipment and shut off the power to your barn(s) at the box as the storm drew near. However, low power lines and downed power lines are still a threat to you and your ag operation. Stick to these tips from OSHA below to stay safe after the storm has passed.

Safety Around Downed Power Lines

The main rule of downed power lines is to treat all lines, conductors and equipment as if they are energized. Lines can still carry electricity even if they are not sparking or “humming.” Report damaged, downed and low power lines to your utility company.

Follow these tips:

  • Do not assume that any downed or low wires are simply cable, telephone or fiber-optic cable. Don’t touch or go near downed or low wires.
  • Stay far from wires—at least 25 feet—and downed power lines and conductors, and keep your animals away as well. Electricity can travel through the ground all around a fallen wire. You could be electrocuted without even touching the downed wires or conductors themselves.
  • Electricity has the ability to energize other objects, especially metal. Look for fencing, water pipes, buildings, other wires and cables, buildings, bushes and trees, and other features that the down line might be touching. Objects blown by the wind can also be electrified by a low or downed power line.
  • Don’t attempt to drive over downed power lines.
  • Report all low or downed power lines to your utility provider.
  • Do not attempt repairs yourself.

Staying safe during and after a major storm is the most important thing. Make sure you’re prepared and know what to do in emergency situations, such as with downed power lines.