Electrical Safety Precautions During Disasters
At the peak of a storm’s fury, it may be hard to think of the electrical safety precautions you should take, but it is necessary to do in order to ensure you and your family’s safety and well being. By following these electrical safety precautions during disasters, you can help prevent death, injuries, and property damage.
When stepping into a flooded area, be aware that submerged outlets or electrical cords may energize the water, posing a lethal trap.
Wet Electrical Equipment
Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances such as furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers. For electrical appliances that have been submerged underwater, have them reconditioned by a qualified service repairman.
Make sure to take care with portable electric generators. Although generators can be a good source of power, if they are improperly installed or operated they can become deadly. In addition, make sure not to connect generators directly to household wiring. The power from generators can backfeed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line technicians making repairs. A qualified, licensed electrician should install your generator to ensure that it meets local electrical codes. Other tips for generators include:
- Make sure the generator is properly grounded.
- Make sure to keep the generator dry.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator.
- Make sure extension cords used with the generator are free of cuts, worn insulation, and have three-pronged plugs.
- Make sure not to overload the generator.
- Do not operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Generators can produce high levels of deadly carbon monoxide very quickly.
- Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and are available at prices ranging from $12 to $30.
Downed Power Lines
Chances are that when there is a storm, there will be downed power lines. Even though power lines may be down, they can still carry an electric current strong enough to cause a serious injury or death. Here are some tips that can keep you safe around downed power lines.
- If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything that may be touching it.
- If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with a downed power line – do not touch the person. Call 911 instead.
- Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the power line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and then electrocute you.
- Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.
- If you are in your car and it is in contact with the downed power line, stay in your car. Tell others to stay away from your vehicle.
- Do not drive over downed power lines.