Downed Power Lines

Fast Reporting Can Save Lives

If you see a downed power line, call PSE&G at 1-800-436-7734 (PSEG) right away.

Downed power lines may look deceptively harmless. However, they can be extremely dangerous.

Here are 10 things everyone should know about downed power lines.

  1. Downed power lines are often still energized. Because electricity may still be flowing through the lines, that makes them extremely dangerous. Stay at least 30 feet away (at least two full pole spans) from all downed wires and keep others from going near them as well. Call 911 or call PSE&G at 1-800-436-7734 immediately. If possible, tell us the nearest cross street or the number of a nearby pole that has not been damaged and is away from any downed wires. The pole number can be found on the metal tag attached to the pole.
  2. ANY downed wires, including telephone and cable TV wires, could be energized. Wires that become entangled with electric lines may also carry electricity. Treat all downed wires as if they are "live".
  3. Never drive over or park near downed wires. If downed wires are in the street, near the curb, or on the sidewalk, stay far away. Never drive over downed power lines. Even if the lines are not energized, they can become entangled in your vehicle.
  4. If a wire lands on your car while you're in it, you should stay there if you can do so safely. Remain in the vehicle with your windows closed until help arrives.
  5. If a wire lands on your car while you're in it and you must exit the vehicle because of a life-threatening situation, follow these steps. First, make sure you're not touching any part of the exterior of the car. Then, jump out of the car with both feet together, making sure that you are not touching any part of the vehicle when your feet hit the ground. Finally, get away quickly—immediately hop or shuffle at least 30 feet away. Do not run away from the vehicle, as the electricity forms rings of different voltages. Running may cause your legs to "bridge" an electric current from a higher ring to a lower voltage ring. This could result in a shock. Get a safe distance away.
  6. Never use water on a downed wire. Because water can conduct electricity, you could wind up getting electrocuted.
  7. Never extend a pole or stick toward a downed wire to help someone who is being shocked. This can create a path through which the electricity can travel. While our human instinct is to reach out to help, touching an individual who has been energized also provides a path through which electricity can travel. Call 911 for help immediately.
  8. Do not attempt to cut or remove a tree that is, or could become, entangled with power lines. Contact PSE&G for assistance and wait for a professional tree removal crew to do the job.
  9. Look up! Always examine your surroundings for power line locations before doing any outside work. Do not throw objects up into power lines, as this can cause short circuits that could result in injuries. This includes items you might not consider conductive, such as ropes and strings.
  10. Teach children never to play around electric equipment and never to touch power lines. They could be seriously injured or killed if they touch live electrical equipment.