Over the past few weeks we have certainly had more than our share of heavy rains. Since May is National Electrical Safety Month, we are bringing you some tips about staying safe during and after the storms that are pelting our area.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) reminds us that disasters bring serious risks for electrically related fatalities, injuries and property loss.
“As families begin to clean up following a storm or flood, we want them to be mindful of the potential dangers that exist whenever water comes into contact with electricity,” cautions ESFI president Brett Brenner. “Before flipping a switch or plugging in an appliance, have a qualified electrician check the house wiring and appliances to make sure they are safe to use.”
Following are some electrical safety tips from ESFI experts to keep in mind during and after severe storms and other natural disasters:
Before the Storm
- Charge all phone and communications devices.
- Move computers and other electronic devices to countertops or tables to avoid water damage from flooding.
- Turn off circuit breakers to avoid power surges.
- If you plan to use a portable generator during the storm, ensure that a qualified electrician has installed it and make sure to use a listed and approved transfer switch and GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection.
During the Storm
- Stay indoors during hurricanes and away from windows and glass.
- Never operate a portable generator inside your home or garage.
- Do not connect generators directly to the household wiring unless an appropriate transfer switch has been installed by a licensed, qualified electrician.
- Always use GFCIs in areas where water and electricity may come in contact. The National Electrical Code (NEC) currently requires that GFCIs be installed in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, outdoors, and within six feet of any sink.
- Have a qualified electrician inspect any water-damaged electrical equipment and electronics. Electrical items, such as circuit breakers, fuses, GFCIs, receptacles, plugs and switches, can malfunction when water and silt get inside. Discard them if they have been submerged.
- If flooding has occurred, have a qualified electrician inspect your electrical system.
- Do not touch a circuit breaker or replace a fuse with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface.
- Report and stay away from downed power lines and always assume they are energized. Never touch a person or object that is in direct or indirect contact with a downed power line, such as a fence, tree limb or water. Instead, call 911 immediately.
- Avoid flooded areas as they may be electrified. Even nonconductive materials like wood or cloth that are slightly wet can conduct electricity.
- If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches or engage in any activity that could create a spark.
Online Safety Resources
ESFI offers additional safety training materials. An infographic, titled “Flood Safety: High Waters, High Stakes,” outlines precautions to take before, during, and after flooding during a storm. Check out the video, Consumer Electrical Safety During Disasters.
Happy Mother’s Day
We wish a special Mother’s Day to our friends and clients today are moms. We hope that you are surrounded by your family, friends, and kids.
Dean and Draper
The information from the Electrical Safety Foundation International has some great ideas on staying safe. We hope that you will use the information before and during our next storm.
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