The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) warns consumers to be aware of electrical dangers associated with severe storms and the resulting floods and power outages. Deaths and injuries during the summer months are frequently caused by post-storm electrical hazards.
The high winds, extreme rains and flooding caused by hurricanes and tornadoes present many unique dangers. ESFI offers consumers important advice about how help prevent electrically-related deaths, injuries and property loss by taking a few precautions during and after severe storms and other natural disasters.
There were 366 weather-related deaths and 1,828 injuries/illnesses report in the U.S. in 2009.
Floods are the #1 most common natural disaster in the United States.
Floods resulted in 53 fatalities and 26 injuries in the U.S. in 2009.
According to the National Weather Service, more than 40 people are killed in the U.S. each year by lightning. Another approximately 200 people are injured.
The majority of people killed by lightning (87%) were outside, with 44% of these lightning fatalities occurring in an outside open area.
In the U.S., 9-10% of people struck by lightning die.
Up to 80% of lightning strike survivors sustain long-term injuries.
During 2002-2005, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 31,400 fires started by lightning. These fires resulted in an annual average of 12 deaths, 57 injuries and $213 million in direct property damage.
An analysis of homeowner’s insurance data by the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) found there were 185,789 lightning claims in 2009 costing $798 million, with the average claim totaling $4,296. These losses ranged from damage to expensive electronic equipment to structural fires that destroyed entire homes.
Stay Safe When Severe Weather Strikes
There are up to 20 million lightning strikes each year in the United States
Hurricane Sandy and its resulting post-tropical cyclones killed at least 117 people in the U.S. and 69 more in Canada and the Caribbean
Unplug appliances and electronics in advance of stores to protect them from power surges
Use battery-powered lanterns and flashlights instead of candles, which can start a fire
DO NOT OPERATE GENERATORS INSIDE OR NEAR YOUR HOME
Alert utility companies about downed power lines
Use caution around flooded areas. Submerged outlets or electrical cords can pose a lethal trap
Have an electrician inspect your home and appliances before using electricity after any flooding or water damage
Never go close to downed power lines or any standing water near them
Do not try to outrun a storm. Instead, seek shelter in a house or other permanent enclosed space