Safety Is A Top Priority After A Storm
Your yard may be a mess, and your home may be damaged, but keep safety top-of-mind after a severe storm. Make your family aware that hazards can be hidden by tree limbs and debris. Downed power lines or electrical equipment in contact with wet ground are very hazardous.
Stay away from and report any downed or sagging lines. Consider them energized and dangerous, until utility crews can assure you they are de-energized and safe.
A downed power line that’s energized can also make things around it hazardous. A fence or guardrail touching a downed line can be energized for several thousand yards, posing a threat to anyone who contacts these structures. Also, stay away from puddles of water which could be in contact with downed lines. These puddles can be as hazardous as the downed power line itself.
Do not attempt to drive over a downed power line. If a downed power lines touches your car, do not attempt to drive away or get out. Call for help and stay inside until utility crews say it’s safe.
Other Safety Concerns:
Be alert to potential hazards from standing water. If using electric yard tools in clean-up efforts, do not operate them if it’s raining, ground is wet, or while you are wet or standing in water. Keep electric tools and equipment at least ten feet away from wet surfaces. Make sure outdoor tools are plugged into outlets with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. If your outdoor outlets don’t have GFCIs, use a portable GFCI cord.
Inside your home, never step in to a flooded room or other area if water is covering electrical outlets, appliances or cords. Be alert to any electrical equipment that could be energized and in contact with water. Never touch electrical appliances, cords or wires while you are wet or standing in water.
“Cleaning up and using water-damaged appliances also carries safety risks,” says Jay Solomon of the Safe Electricity Advisory Board. “Electric motors in appliances that have been drenched or submerged should be thoroughly cleaned and reconditioned before they are put back into service. Repair or replace electrical appliances or tools that have been in contact with water. Do not use any water-damaged appliance until a professional has checked it out.”
During an outage, Safe Electricity also recommends turning off electrical appliances and unplugging major equipment, computers and televisions. This will help protect equipment that could be damaged by electrical surges, and prevent circuit overloads when power is restored. Leave one light on to indicate that power has been restored. Wait a few minutes then turn on other appliances and equipment one at a time.
If you use a standby generator (Generator Safety), make sure a transfer safety switch is used, or connect the appliance(s) directly to the generator output through an extension cord (Extension Cord Safety). This prevents electricity from traveling back through the power lines, what’s known as “back feed.” Back feed creates danger for anyone near lines, especially the crews working to restore power.