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Emergency Responders

Be safe.

You’re the first on the scene, and we want you to have all the information you need to safely handle the electrical facilities you might encounter. Click on the links below to move down the page.

Stay safe during electricity emergencies.
Stay safe around downed power lines.
Stay safe around damaged utility poles.
Stay safe when vehicles come in contact with power lines.
Stay safe during a structural fire.
Stay safe during a transformer or manhole fire.
Stay safe during an electrical pole fire.
Stay safe around electrical substations

Here’s what you should know about electricity itself:

  • Current kills, not voltage. Even the current in a Christmas tree light can be dangerous.
  • Electricity seeks the easiest path. Conductors such as metal tools, water and wet wood increase your risk of becoming part of the path. Your body is also a conductor, so keep away from energized equipment.
  • Low-voltage lines present a danger just like high-voltage lines do.

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What to do in an emergency involving electricity:

  • Call Avista Utilities immediately at (800) 227-9187. When you call, we’ll dispatch a crew or supervisor as soon as possible. Our primary objective in responding is to protect life first, then property.
  • Keep the public clear of the area.
  • Never park your vehicle under power lines or close to electrical equipment.
  • Contain the oil in transformers and other electrical equipment with kitty litter, dirt, etc. Never use water to disperse it. Call Avista for clean up help.
  • Never use water to spray energized equipment.

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What to do in an emergency involving downed power lines or damaged utility poles:

  • Stay clear of downed wires and keep others away.
  • Never attempt to move the wires. Gloves, protective clothing and rubber boots will not eliminate your risk of electric shock.
  • Call Avista at (800) 227-9187 and give us an accurate pole location.
  • If the wire is touching a metal fence or object, assume the fence or object is also energized.
  • Survey the area for other damage or wires that could cause problems.
  • If oil is leaking from a transformer, avoid contact and let us know immediately so we can clean it up. Keep the oil from reaching storm drains and water ways.
  • Be aware that equipment on your vehicle such as pike poles may still conduct electricity because of dirt or carbon buildup.

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  What to do in an emergency involving downed power lines in contact with a vehicle:

  • Stay clear and do not touch the vehicle.
  • Keep others well back. A line can spring in any direction when freed of the vehicle.
  • Maintain your distance and visually check the vehicle’s occupants. Keep them calm and in the vehicle unless a threat is imminent (e.g., danger of fire or explosion).
  • If a threat is imminent, instruct the endangered person to open the door (but not step out), then jump free of the vehicle, landing on both feet together and shuffling away from the vehicle. At no time should the person be in contact with the ground and the vehicle at the same time.
  • Do not touch an occupant, either while that person is in the vehicle or jumping from the vehicle. 

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  What to do in a structural fire:

  • If possible, turn off the power supply at the breaker panel or fuse box.
  • Never pull the meter unless you have received proper electrical training.
  • Should service wires need to be cut at the weatherhead, wait for Avista personnel to do so.
  • When moving through a smoke-filled structure, protect yourself by either crawling or walking with arms raised in front of you, palms toward you, to reduce the possibility of contacting or grabbing an energized line.

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What to do if a pad-mount transformer, transformer vault or manhole is on fire:

  • Call 911.
  • If the pad-mount transformer - a metal box installed at ground level to protect underground electrical system equipment that surfaces above grade - is damaged, assume it is energized and capable of electrocuting you. Assume anything in contact with the transformer is energized, too.
  • If a vehicle is in contact with the transformer, treat the situation as you would a downed power line.
  • Clear the entire area. Transformers can explode.
  • Do not try to enter a vault or manhole containing burning electrical circuits or equipment.
  • Avista will let you know the power has been turned off.

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What to do if an electrical pole is on fire:

  • Call 911.
  • Keep people and equipment away from the area - and from wires running to adjacent poles.
  • Use water, dry chemicals or other non-conducting agents to extinguish fires near the bottom of the pole.
  • Allow fires at the top of the pole to burn until someone from Avista Utilities arrives to extinguish the fire or provide guidance to the fire department.
  • Do not direct straight streams of water at the pole top or approach the pole top by any means, including an elevating apparatus.
  • Be aware of energized wires and falling crossarms.
  • Contain the oil in transformers and other electrical equipment with kitty litter, dirt, etc. Never use water to disperse it. Call Avista for clean up help.

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  What to do and not do around electrical substations:

  • Do not enter electrical substations.
  • Do not go into a substation to retrieve balls, kites or any other objects that go over the fence.
  • Do not attach your fence to a substation fence because that can create an electrical hazard for you and others.
  • Do call Avista Utilities at (800) 227-9187 if a substation’s entry gates are open and you do not see an Avista vehicle nearby.
  • Do keep children away and call Avista Utilities if the fence around an electrical substation is damaged or does not touch the ground.

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