Patton Township, Centre County, Pa- Monday afternoon, a tree between 50 and 60 feet tall was blown onto power lines in the Park Forest development. The tree brought down a charged wire, but no injuries came as a result of the down wire.
WTAJ spoke with both fire and power company officials about what you need to know to stay safe when power lines go down.
“Avoid the area, if you see trees on wires, trees bringing wires down… avoid the area. Call 9-1-1, so the first responders can go out, and give notification to the power company on de-energizing or shutting the power down to make it safe,” said Dennis Harris, Assistant Chief for Alpha Fire Company.
Never try to walk over a wire. Always assume that a line is still charged, even if it doesn’t appear to be a power line.
“Cable lines, even communications lines, when they go down… they don’t have electricity, but you don’t know what they might be tangled up in,” said Harris. They could act as conductors of electrical current.
Sometimes, it’s not the power lines that are damaged, it’s the homes themselves. Officials say it can happen in any area with nearby trees. This includes places like Park Forest, where there’s an abundance of trees over 50-feet tall.
“That’s a large tree… so I was a bit suprised to see that one come down… I thought maybe the smaller ones would come down, that one was one of the larger ones I’ve seen here,” said Park Forest homeowner John Mackin, when referencing the 60 foot tall tree that fell in the cul-de-sac across the street from his house.
“We have some [trees] that could fall on our house. We’ve had to have them trimmed and I’m kinda careful about high winds… I’m looking around, seeing if we should get down lower from the top attic,” Mackin said.
Experts say the lower parts of your home are some of the safest places to be during high winds.
“You can go to the basement, you can go anywhere where it’s more load-bearing… where the beams have more support. The center of the house is one of the better places to be as well,” Harris said.
The alternative is to live somewhere without trees. But, locals like Mackin say they like living in nature, and it’s just part of the risk one assumes as a homeowner.
Mackin says he takes comfort in how quickly officials respond to incidents like this.
“These guys were here quicker than even I could know it [the fallen tree] was out there, so I think they do a good job,” he said.
Officials were working to clear the fallen tree and return power to the development as soon as possible on Monday evening. They urged the community to be patient, as crews are backlogged with many power outages across the region.