What better time than National Electrical Safety Month (May) to pass along helpful tips on staying safe and shock-free! While we want you and your family protected, and your home untouched, all year round, it’s important to remember – you can’t control the weather!
Storms and severe weather can leave quite an impression. Spring storms can mean high winds, hail, and heavy rains. Potential consequences include damage to homes and businesses, downed power lines, and flash-flooding, no matter which part of the country you live in. Fallen trees, loose shingles, scattered patio furniture – are all reminders of the chaos left behind.
Before we can even begin to think about the cost and hassle that storm damage can cause, the most important thing to consider is the safety of you and your family! You can buy a new window or install a new electrical panel, but a human life or a beloved pet would be irreplaceable.
Read About How to Ensure the Electrical Safety of Your Pets.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! There are ways to protect yourself against the elements! As leading home service providers, Mister Sparky and STOP Restoration have teamed up for #ElectricalSafetyMonth to pass along the best practices for preventing shock risk from downed power lines or water-electricity contact, as well as suggestions for what to do should your house or business need work after some nasty weather.
What Should I Do If a Downed Power Line Falls on the Ground?
Nothing quite compares to the damage and hazard caused by a downed power line.
Always assume all downed lines are LIVE! Sometimes there is no clear way of telling if a line still is energized, which makes it even more deadly. Following these simple rules can ensure you remain safe and sound – and shock-free!
- If you see a downed line, call 911.
- Use precaution! Downed power lines can energize the ground up to 35 feet away. Even more in wet conditions.
- Never drive over downed power lines or through water that is in contact with them.
- Never try to move a downed power line. Even using items that typically are not conductive will not prevent injury or death.
- If there is something (even if it’s a person) touching a downed powerline, do NOT touch it. Call 911.
- The proper way to move away from a power line is to shuffle with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground. This will minimize the potential for electrocution.
- Stay away from a downed power line that is wet or submerged in water.
Remember - if your home or neighborhood experiences a downed power line, it’s always best to contact your utility company, fire department, or an experienced professional electrician to make sure the electricity is truly disconnected.
How Can I Reduce Electrocution Risk After a Storm?
If your home has suffered water damage from harsh weather or other factors, it’s best to turn the power off if it’s still on!
- We do not recommend trying to turn the power off yourself if you are not certain that the lines or water you may have to cross are electrically charged.
- Contact an electric service professional immediately to conduct a whole home electric safety check.
- Contact a restoration company for water removal. This will minimize the damage standing water can cause and help to mitigate mold growth.
What if My Home is Damaged During a Storm?
You have options when seeking help for damage to your home or business, so be picky. The restoration company you hire should do the following:
- Arrive quickly, create a written action plan, and provide professional service every step of the way
- Coordinate with your insurance company
- Use industry-leading restoration services to immediately begin removing and drying out water, and mitigating mold in your property
What if my Electrical Appliances Have Been Exposed to Water?
The home has plenty of electrical appliances, from the toaster to your refrigerator, gaming console, and basic lighting! When your home sustains water damage, some of your electronics have likely suffered the same fate.
Electrical damage can result from water leakage, melting ice dams, spring storms, floods, and hurricanes. Take care to make sure electrical wires aren’t exposed. If they have been exposed or are corroded, it may be time for a replacement. ‘
Consider, first, these important steps before attempting to handle water-damaged items.
- Do the Research. The Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) guide offers advice on electronics that may need to be replaced or repaired by a professional technician. Non-profits like Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) also publish helpful and educational resources, like this guide on rebuilding and renovating water-damaged electrical systems.
- Figure Out the Problem by using the resources above to help you figure out what happened to what equipment. Water damage can result from natural disasters, like floods or hurricanes, or from man-made debris, like chemicals or sewage in the water. Was your wiring compromised? Your conductors? Or was it your whole electrical system?
- Water, water everywhere…but please DON’T take a drink! Has your water been tainted in some way? Did salty waters corrode your appliances? Or was it something more insidious, like oil?
- Time Matters. How much time did your electronics spend in the water? A minute or an hour could make all the difference in how you handle the problem.
- Call a professional! Everywhere you look, whether it’s on the NEC or ESFI, the biggest takeaway is to contact a professional. We advise against DIY (Do-It-Yourself). Professional electricians and restoration technicians know the codes, the materials, and the proper safety practices necessary to get the job done.
Preparation and education are the best ways to avoid danger and damage during storms.
Review this Storm Safety Checklist to be ready before the next weather event.
To help promote the importance of electrical safety awareness, these two brands are teaming up for a giveaway contest. Visit either link below to enter to win!