Stay far away from downed power lines - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Stay far away from downed power lines

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Albany WG&L Light Director Jimmy Norman Albany WG&L Light Director Jimmy Norman
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

 With excessively wet and stormy weather this summer, power crews are urging you to stay safe. Lightning strikes, heavy rain and fallen trees can knock over power lines.

The power lines next to your home could become deadly if they suddenly fall.

But Albany WG&L Light Director Jimmy Norman says downed cables may not look live, even though there are thousands of volts traveling through them. 

"Everybody knows that power lines can be dangerous. They've become a necessity of life in our culture these days. But the danger factor's always there," said Norman.

The Albany Water, Gas and Light Commission sends crews to check and maintain poles and power lines. But Norman says they can't always keep potential hazards away.

"There's no maintenance system in the world that can prevent lightning causing damage. And we can only trim trees back so far from the power lines," said Norman.

He says taller trees become a big risk factor during stormy weather. "If you've got a power line that's 40-50 feet tall, and you've got a tree thirty feet away that's 120 feet tall, if it falls it's still gonna make contact with the power lines."

Norman said downed power lines can reach further than you would think, because once they hit the ground there could be conductors underneath your feet. And an underground conductor could have been the reason for the Atlanta teen's death, even though she was nearly ten yards away from the downed line.

There could have been a water line, or some other metal type of line. There could have been an underground telephone cable that it traveled, you know. But it can travel a good distance from the location."

And there may not be any sings a line is about to fall.

"It just happens. Like I say, a tree can fall miles down the road and create turbulence on the line that pulls a connector loose, or breaks one of the bolts on the pole, or anything could happen."

So if you see a downed cable, make sure to report it right away. Norman says between 7,000 and 12,000 volts of electricity travel through the power lines at any given time. And he says live lines won't spark when they're touching the ground, so don't go anywhere near them.

Norman also said you shouldn't sit on electrical boxes located in many yards and parking lots. Call 911 or your utility company if you see a downed line.