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Committed to Customer Safety: PG&E Provides New Safety Information about Downed Powerlines in Emergency Situations

Some Simple Tips Can Help Save Lives in a Crisis

One of the most important safety tips shared by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is to treat all downed powerlines as if they are energized and keep away. Circumstances, however, can become more complicated if a powerline is in the path of an evacuation route.

“It’s very unusual for a powerline to make contact with a vehicle, but should that occur, we want our customers to be prepared with the knowledge that can save their lives,” said Frank Fraone, PG&E public safety specialist. “This is especially important when discussing evacuation plans with your family and friends, since wildfires and earthquakes can cause powerlines to fall.”

PG&E has tips and a helpful video to keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.

If you see a downed powerline:

  • If you see a low-hanging or downed powerline, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous.
  • Keep yourself and others away, and do not touch or try to move a downed line. Be sure to remain a minimum of 30 feet away on a dry surface and 60 feet away on a wet surface.
  • Report downed powerlines immediately by calling 911 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.

If you are evacuating due to an emergency, and downed powerlines are blocking your path:

  • Always seek a safe route that does not have downed powerlines.
  • If there is no evacuation route clear of powerlines and you have no other choice, drive slowly over the powerlines to prevent the lines from becoming tangled with your vehicle. Stay inside the vehicle at all times.
  • If powerlines become entangled with the vehicle, stop, call 9-11 and remain inside the vehicle until first responders arrive on-site and provide direction

If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed powerline:

  • Stay inside! The safest place is in your car. The ground around your car may be energized.
  • Honk the horn, roll down your window and yell for help.
  • Warn others to stay away. Anyone who touches the equipment or ground around the vehicle may be injured.
  • Use your mobile phone to call 911.
  • Fire department, police and PG&E workers will tell you when it is safe to get out of the vehicle.

If there is a fire and you must exit a vehicle that has come in contact with downed powerlines:

  • Remove loose items of clothing.
  • Cross your arms across your chest and jump clear of the vehicle, so you are not touching the car when your feet hit the ground.
  • Once outside the vehicle, do not touch the car.
  • Keep both feet close together and shuffle away from the vehicle without picking up your feet.
  • Shuffle at least 30 feet away on a dry surface and 60 feet away from the line on a wet surface.

Additional driving tips:

  • Traffic Signals: If traffic signals are out or flashing red, come to a full stop at every intersection, and proceed as you would at a four-way stop.
  • Keep emergency gear in your car when you’re traveling, including:
    • Cell phone
    • Flashlights
    • Jumper cables
    • Blankets
    • Warning devices (such as flares or reflectors)

Learn more at

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit and




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