With recent storms causing major devastation in the US, I thought I would talk briefly about electrical safety ‘after the storm’. Just because a storm has passed does not mean that the dangers are gone. It is imperative that you and your family know what hazards may arise after a storm and how to handle them or simply know to stay away from them.
- Stay away from power lines that are down. Report downed wires to the power company immediately.
- Stay away from trees or tree branches that are on power lines. Report downed trees to your local municipality.
- Stay away from standing water in basements or other rooms if any potential exists that water covers outlets, appliances, or other electric powered devices.
- Stay away from breaker boxes if you must stand in water to access them. The power company should be notified if you cannot switch off the power safely.
- Be sure all gas and power has been shut off to damaged buildings before entering.
- Water damaged appliances and other devices should be checked and/or refurbished by a professional before putting the item back in service.
- Be sure a portable generator has a transfer safety switch installed or connect appliances directly to generator to prevent injury to yourself and others by what is known as back feed.
- Do not use a wet/dry vacuum in outlets that have been water damaged until the structure is deemed safe by a professional.
- Do not turn on switches or appliances until the structure is deemed safe by a professional.
- Never enter a flooded building alone, even if the power has been disconnected from the main grid. Wear chest waders and a clip on flashlight so you can maintain your balance. Always have somebody near-by in case of an emergency.
Remember, power lines and wires do not have to be sparking or arcing to have current flowing. And as always, if in doubt, contact your power company or local municipality for aid after a storm. Though you may be displaced after a storm, surviving it is the most important factor. Don’t survive the storm only to be hurt or worst after the fact. Use extreme caution and by all means, rely on the professionals for safe and accurate assessment of your home.