What do I do when I see wires down or low wires?

Perhaps you see it when you are walking in your neighborhood. More likely, you see it as you are driving between home and work, or running errands. Wires from a pole or a home are either sagging or they are completely on the ground.

What should you do?

This guide will give you all of your options in one place.

Don’t ignore downed wires

The easiest thing to do is to ignore the wires you see that could potentially pose a hazard. But this is the worst thing you could do in this situation. Downed lines point to several bad outcomes – they could spark and cause a fire, get on to a passing car and cause an additional accident, or a child could see them and try to play with them or pull on them with disastrous consequences. The best case scenario is that someone’s time without access to internet or entertainment is extended because you couldn’t be bothered to make a phone call.

Don’t ignore downed wires.

If they’re sparking, call 911

If the wires you see are sparking and moving about, or there is evidence of fire or scorching nearby, you should immediately dial 911. Your local Emergency Communications Center will immediately dispatch not just police and/or fire engines, but they will also have the best number to use to reach the company or companies responsible for the lines.

This way you get help to the scene fast, and help protect your neighborhood or community.

Sparking lines are most likely to be the lines that were the highest on the poles – the lines usually reserved for transmitting electricity. Non-sparking lines are more likely to be lower lines that carry internet, cable, phone, or other services to homes.

If they’re down but not sparking …. Still call 911

The fact is that Emergency Communications Centers are trained in what to do for this sort of call, because it can represent a preventable tragedy. By reporting downed lines to 911, you are getting the right people to the scene to help and prevent further problems.

It is far worse to NOT call and be wrong than to call and to learn it was a cable line or some other non-lethal line.

If the lines are sagging … make a judgment call

If you see lines between poles that are sagging but don’t seem to be in danger of coming down or snagging a passing truck, you might choose to let that go, allowing neighbors to make the call about this potential future hazard.

If, however, the lines seem to be newly drooping and a potential threat – call your local public utilities commission or use a civic app to report the incident.

Some cities have apps, like Cincinnati’s FixItCincy where any citizen can report an issue and it gets immediately routed to the right agency or department to handle it. This is what you should do with sagging wires.

Report sagging or downed wires.

Photo by Tyler Tornberg from Pexels

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