Stay safe if your vehicle hits a power pole
Any vehicle accident involving a power pole is potentially dangerous because the entire accident site could be energized from a downed wire. If your vehicle hits a power pole, remain in your vehicle until assistance arrives.
What you should do
- Immediately call 911.
- Tell anyone who approaches your vehicle to stay away.
- Leave the vehicle only if it’s on fire, and don’t step onto the pavement while in contact with the vehicle. Jump out instead with your feet together.
Use caution! The ground may be energized
In a collision between your vehicle and a power pole, electricity may be flowing through the frame of your vehicle and along the ground. As long as you remain in your vehicle, you’re safe. If you attempt to get out, you’re placing yourself in danger.
Do not exit your vehicle
- Assume all downed wires are energized, even if you think they may be phone or cable TV wires. Do not leave the vehicle. Call 911 instead.
- There may be wires you can't see. If your airbag has deployed it may limit your vision. An energized power line that you can’t see may be on the ground. Do not leave the vehicle. Call 911 and let trained professionals tell you when it’s safe to leave your vehicle.
In case of a fire, exit safely
- The only time you should leave your vehicle is if it’s on fire. This rarely happens, but if it does, there is a safe way to exit the vehicle.
- Never touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
- Instead, open the door, rotate your body until you are facing out, put both feet on the bottom of the door frame, hop out, and land both feet on the ground at the same time.
- Do not touch the vehicle when you jump — keep your arms down by your side.
- After you exit the vehicle, hop or shuffle to get the recommended 35 feet away from your vehicle and any downed power lines. Separating your feet can create two contact points with the ground and can result in a shock if the ground is energized by a fallen wire.
When others try to help
- If you’ve crashed into a power pole and someone offers to assist you, tell them to stay at least 35 feet away from the crash site — about the length of a bus.
- Tell them you’ve already called 911 and help is on the way or ask them to call 911 if you haven’t.
- If you see someone else who has hit a utility pole, do not approach the crash.
- If you’re in your own vehicle, stay in it.
- If you’re on foot, stay at least 35 feet away.
- Shout at others to remain in their vehicle. They’ll be safe there until help arrives.
If the crashed vehicle is on fire and you want to help
- Stay at least 35 feet away from the crash and downed lines or you may walk into an energized area.
- Call 911 immediately. Don't wait to see if someone else has already called.
- Shout instructions to help the crash victim to safely exit the vehicle (hop out, don't touch the vehicle, shuffle feet along the ground to exit the energized area).
Use the Minnesota Power or SWL&P outage map to stay up-to-date on area outages and hazards.