With dozens of Queenslanders crashing vehicles into the state’s power poles last Easter, a campaign starts today to warn drivers about what to do if they hit electricity infrastructure.
Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the critical message for drivers and passengers was that the safest place to be was in the vehicle.
“Drivers hit parts of the state’s power network more than 50 times last Easter school holidays,” he said.
“As we head into the holidays, I urge everyone to be aware of the risks and take note of the safety message that this campaign is delivering: STAY in the car, CALL 000 and WAIT for help.”
Dr Lynham said many people mistakenly thought if their vehicle hit the powerline network that power was automatically turned off and that it was safe to leave their vehicle .
“This is incorrect: powerlines can still be energised and the electricity can then travel through the metal of the vehicle body and/or through the ground.
“And bystanders are at risk as well of receiving electric shocks or worse if they touch the vehicle.
Member for Greenslopes and former registered nurse Joe Kelly said it was human nature in any emergency for bystanders to want to help.
“I know that as a nurse, and like most people, my first reaction would be to go to the people in the vehicle to see if I can help,” he said.
“But in these situations, the best thing anyone can for those people, and any other bystander, is keep yourself and anyone else at least ten metres from the vehicle and the damaged power equipment and call 000.
“I’ve seen what electric shocks can do, and I urge everyone to take heed of the message.”
But what happens if there is another serious hazard forcing the occupants to leave the vehicle?
Dr Lynham said if the people inside the vehicle needed to get out because of fire or a life-threatening hazard they should follow a process to minimise the risk of shock or electrocution.
“Jump clear of the vehicle, being very careful not to touch the vehicle and ground at the same time,” he said.
“Once you are clear of the vehicle, either shuffle your feet along the ground or jump until you are at least ten metres away from any danger.”
The 12-week campaign kicks off today with TV, radio, cinema, social media, digital and service station advertising in selected areas. It is one wave of the ongoing safety awareness campaign that started in September with powerline storm safety and continues throughout the year.