Overhead power lines and equipment such as poles may be broken by storms, ice, equipment failure, or vehicle accidents. If you see a downed power line, call 911 immediately and then call Hydro Ottawa at 613 738-6400.
Always assume that a downed power line is live. Anything that is in contact with a downed line, such as trees, vehicles, or fences, can also be live. This includes the ground around the power line, as electricity will spread out from the wire through the ground like ripples in a pool. The voltage in the ground will be highest near the point of contact, and will gradually reduce with distance. Be careful of wet ground, as it allows electricity to travel further.
To help ensure your safety, always stay at least 10 meters (33 feet) away from downed overhead power lines and from any objects that the lines are in contact with.
For information on what to do in situations involving downed power lines and vehicles, visit our Motor Vehicle Accident page.