Nature will always, always remind us that we should never be complacent about our safety, and particularly not during storms and other natural disasters. A great number of electrical hazards may result from the effects of a storm: downed lines, floods, and electrical equipment getting wet, and of course, water and electricity make for a dangerous combination.
When storms strike, much of the natural devastation that happens may be beyond our control. But we can help prevent accidents, fires, and even property damage, if we practice prudence, observe safety precautions, and take the time and opportunity of sunny and fine weather to make sure that our electrical systems are well-maintained and that safety devices are in place and working properly.
Below are some ways by which you can minimize electrical risks during a storm:
- If you are outside during a thunderstorm, practice safety precautions to avoid getting hit by lightning
Some of the precautions are basic:
- Move to a low point because lighting usually hits the tallest available object. If you are in an exposed area, get down and stay in a crouched position
- Avoid metal
- Stay away from water of any kind, whether puddles, swimming pools, lakes, even damp grass
- Stay away from trees
- If possible, take shelter in a sturdy, enclosed building or a hard top automobile. Avoid staying in open spaces
- If inside the house, stay away from the doors and windows, unplug electronic equipment before the arrival of the storm, and stay away from water sources like the various plumbing inside the house
- Never approach or go near a downed power line. Stay at least 10 feet away
When moving away from a downed power line, shuffle with small steps, and try to keep your feet grounded at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. If you see someone in contact with a downed power line, do not attempt to help them or touch them. Call 911 instead.
- Avoid water or flooded areas which are in contact with downed power lines, electrical outlets or electrical cords, once power has returned after a storm
Even the smallest puddle of water can become a conductor of electricity, and flooded areas like a basement can be energized and become a lethal trap if the water is in contact with any electrical device, cords, and power lines.
- Install a whole-house surge protector
Two-component surge protector devices are recommended to be installed at your home, where one is installed at the circuit breaker box and the others near the outlets close to your electronic equipment and appliances. These surge protector devices can help lessen the damage to your house if it should get hit by lightning. But even with the installation of these safety devices, it is still recommended that you unplug the electronics and appliances at your home before the storm hits. Similar precautions should be taken for your cable lines, wireless networks, and other similar wiring. Use cell phones or cordless phones instead of hard line phones during a storm, or you risk getting “hit” by lightning.
- DO NOT use wet electrical equipment
Even if your area or your house was not flooded, it might happen that some of your electrical equipment had gotten wet. Wet electrical equipment, even if there is only some moisture or dampness in its internal mechanism, is potentially dangerous to use. Water can also damage the motors in most electrical appliances, so the prudent thing to do would be to avoid using any wet electrical equipment until after they have been examined by a qualified service repair dealer. Otherwise, you risk damaging your appliance or electronics, and you also risk electric shock or electrocution. The same rule applies to wet sockets, outlets, switches. Wait until after you have consulted with an electrician before plugging anything in.