MACON, Mo. — Winter months can bring snow, ice, and windy conditions, which create additional hazards for drivers. Should an accident occur, it is important to be prepared. Automobile crashes always present danger, but when electricity is involved, the decisions made in the moments after the accident are especially crucial. Macon Electric Cooperative would like to provide a few tips to help prepare drivers to stay safe on winter roads.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy or icy pavement.
Jim Monk, Safe Electricity Advisory Board member reminds consumers, “In order to prepare for cold temperatures, snow, and ice, perform regular maintenance on your car to check that batteries are charged, tires have sufficient tread, and windshield wipers are in working order.”
In case of an emergency, pack a kit that includes blankets, flares, a flashlight, and a window scraper. If you are stranded in your car after an accident, watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Do not stay in one position for too long, stay awake, and do not overexert yourself as this could put strain on your heart.
Due to the potential for a winter storm to bring down power lines, individuals should only venture outside if absolutely necessary. Slow down when driving in icy conditions, and always keep your eyes on the road to look out for hazardous conditions or downed power lines. Also watch for debris near down poles and lines, as it may be energized as well.
If you see a car in an accident with a power pole, your first instinct may be to rush toward the vehicle to offer help. Always remember to keep your distance from the vehicle and all electrical equipment that has been damaged. Instruct those in the car to stay inside until the power has been shut off.
If you must exit the vehicle because it is on fire, jump clear of it with your feet together and without touching the vehicle and ground at the same time. Keeping your feet together, shuffle or “bunny hop” to safety. Doing this will ensure that you will not have different strengths of electric current running from one foot to another.
Keep in mind that a downed line does not need to be sparking to be energized. It is best to assume all low and downed lines are energized and dangerous.
“Never drive over a downed line because that could pull down the pole and other equipment, causing additional hazards,” adds Monk. “If you see a downed line, do not get out of your car. The safest place is inside the vehicle. Contact 911 to have the utility notified immediately.”
For utility crews, repairing damaged power lines is especially dangerous during storm conditions. The increased hazards mean that extra time and attention must be dedicated to ensure that power is safely restored. Have patience while linemen work in these adverse conditions to turn the power back on, and remember to exercise safety and be prepared for driving in dangerous winter conditions.
For more information on electrical safety, visit www.maconelectric.com.