By Persis Joyce Abraham
There are 1001 myths in the system as to what to do when involved in scenarios you might find harmless. Popular thinking has inspired people to come up with their own theories when in the middle of accidents, and this, results mostly in lost lives and properties. One of such thinking is that you leave the car because you might be electrocuted in it since it has metallic features. There is also the myth that you need to flee the scene with a run and make sure you are clear of the entire zone before you call for help.
But these schools of thought don’t do justice to the situation, and provide little/no safety and protection for you. When your vehicle comes in contact with, or hits an electric pole, it is important you try as much as possible to control the situation. Follow the steps below;
• Don’t be tempted to step out of the car. Stay in the car and call ECG on 0302 611611, or the Fire Service on 192, for help. Make sure you do not touch any metal part of the car, and try to prevent anyone, aside a professional from coming close to the scene. The grounds could electrocute anyone who comes close. Make sure anyone at the scene stays about 35 feet away.
• However, if you notice fumes from the car, or sparks from the pole, you need to exit the car. Exiting the car means you need to take the following precautions, since there is the high possibility that the grounds of the accident is electrically charged, making it highly dangerous.
- Make sure you take notice of Touch potential. One of the things that can kill you on the spot is Touch Potential. Touch Potential is the situation where you risk getting electrocuted based on one part of the body, usually your hand, touching an energized object, in this case the car, while another part of your body touches the ground, in this case your feet, simultaneously. Electricity flows through your body to the ground, essentially making you a human jumper cable (link) between the ground and the car. Hence you need to jump out of the car and land on the ground with both feet together.
- And there is a catch to this, after jumping out of the car, do not immediately move a step, YOU MAY BE ELECTROCUTED. This is because there is Step Potential. Due to the fact that the ground is energized, electrical current can travel through one foot to the other, if the feet are not close together. The wider apart your feet, the higher the potential of getting electrocuted. It is, therefore, important to take at least, short shuffled steps of 10 metres, as quickly as possible, away from the scene till you are quite a distance away. Now, you can consider yourself safe.
- If you encounter downed power lines, assume all down lines are energized. Do not drive over them. try and avoid them ALWAYS.
Electricity, just like fire is a good ‘servant’ but a bad ‘master.’ However, when carefully taken into good consideration and well understood, some of the mistakes made in the past can be controlled and effectively prevented for our safety.
About the Author
Persis Abraham is a Public relations Officer with ECG. She has over 5years experience in practice.
She holds a Masters’ degree in Communications and Media Studies
Editor’s Note: This article was written with soundbites from a video from Puget Sound Energy on Safety.