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 to help prevent electrically-related deaths, injuries and property loss by taking a few precautions during and after severe storms and other natural disasters.
Electricity drives the modern world and we often take it for granted. And if a natural disaster occurs, there’s a few things to remember to stay electrically safe during the storm.
Before the storm hits, make sure to charge all phones and other communication devices. Then, unplug all electronics, and move them as high as possible to avoid water damage from flooding.
Turn off the main power breaker feeding the home to prevent any surges to the wiring and equipment.
After the storm blows through, and you begin to evaluate the aftermath, it’s important to avoid flooded areas as they may be electrified.
Do not use any electrical equipment or electronics if they’ve been submerged.
If flooding has occurred, have the electrical system inspected by a qualified electrical inspector.
If you’re using a qualified generator, ensure a qualified electricity installed it and make sure to use a listed and approved transfer switch and GFCI protection.
It’s a good idea to protect your home with carbon monoxide detectors.
When venturing outside, be very alert of your surroundings. If you encounter a fallen power line, stay at least 35 feet away. Avoid touching any objects the line may be laying on such as a fence, a car, or a light pole as the object could be energized.
If others are around, alert them to stay away and call 911.
While storms can be devastating to a community, the aftermath can be challenging. However, could be an opportunity to renovate and upgrade your main power source with renewable energy such as solar.
Floodwaters and heavy winds aren’t the only hazards during a storm. That’s why it’s important to treat electricity with extreme caution.
Flooding can occur anywhere, but water and electricity don’t mix. Because electrical hazards may linger after flood waters recede, it’s important to take precautions before, during, and after flooding takes place.
Before use, learn about the potential dangers associated with portable generators, such as their production of carbon monoxide (CO). CO is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless poisonous gas that is called the “silent killer” because it is virtually undetectable without the use of technology like CO alarms. Follow these tips to generate power AND safety when using a generator
Transfer switches isolate utility power and generator power to prevent backfeeding, which can be deadly. Backfeed can follow wires and harm those nearby, including utility workers making repairs. Transfer switches also protect the home from electrical fires caused by short circuits and improper connections. Transfer switches should only be installed by a qualified electrician.
The Atlantic hurricane season is June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. On average there are 6 hurricanes, three which are categorized as “major,” each year. History provides important examples of the potentially dangerous impact hurricanes can have and the need to be prepared.
ESFI offers these safety tips to help you:
Prepare for the storm:
Weather the storm:
Recover from the storm:
In the first quarter of 2017 alone, thunderstorms caused a record $5.7 billion in losses, and lightning kills and average of 30 people a year. Learn how to keep you, your family, and property safe from lightning.
Downed power lines can be deadly. ALWAYS assume a downed power line is live and avoid going near it or anything in contact with it.
To be prepared for a tornado, it is critical to be familiar with tornado warning signs. Although tornadoes vary greatly in their appearance and provide little or no warning, the following signs can indicate that a tornado could be imminent.
Just as you don’t always know when a disaster will strike, you won’t know where you will be when a disaster will strike. Follow these safety tips which include:
With the severe weather characteristic of winter comes the threat of electrical hazards caused by downed power lines, power outages, and coastal flooding.
ESFI is cautioning the public that electrical dangers associated with downed power lines, portable generators, and submerged electrical equipment can still cause injuries and deaths once a snow or ice storm has ended. Further, danger can also arise from the use of supplemental heating sources such as space heaters.
ESFI recommends taking the following electrical safety precautions during winter storms: