Hurricane Safety Talking Points
Safety after a Hurricane
- Storm debris can hide dangers, such as downed power lines. Use caution in any clean-up effort. Any downed or sagging wires should be considered energized and potentially dangerous. Stay away, warn others to stay away, and call the utility.
- If power lines come down on or around your vehicle, call for help and remain in the vehicle.
- Do not attempt to get out until a utility lineman can assure you the power has been turned off.
- Only in the rare instance of fire should people exit the car. Then, they must know how to do so safely, jumping free and clear of the vehicle, landing with feet together and hopping away.
- If you come upon or witness an accident involving toppled power poles and lines, don’t leave your vehicle to approach the accident scene. From the point where the downed line is making contact, deadly voltage will radiate for an unknown distance.
- Use caution at intersections where traffic lights may be without power. Stop at all railroad crossings.
- Use flashlights instead of candles when power goes out after a hurricane. Candles can pose a fire hazard.
- Electrical sparks can potentially ignite natural gas if it is leaking. FEMA recommends locating your electricity circuit box and teaching all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity so that you are prepared in case you are instructed to turn off the utility service at your home. For your safety, always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit breaker.
- Don’t use electric yard tools to clean up after a storm if it’s raining or the ground is wet. Keep cords away from standing water and equipment away from wet surfaces. Plug equipment only into outlets that are protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
- Never step into a flooded basement if waters could be covering electrical outlets or appliances that are plugged in. Do not attempt to shut power off at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. Stay out of flooded rooms and basements until you are assured the power has been cut off.
- Electric motors can be damaged when wet and should not be used after a storm until checked by a professional. Have them repaired or replaced.
Caution Urged when Using Back-Up Generators
- Make sure you know how to operate a back-up generator safely. Follow all manufacturers’ recommendations to avoid tragedy. Unsafe operation can threaten you, your family, neighbors, and even the linemen working to restore power. Unsafe installation or operation may also result in a lawsuit, and your insurance may not cover your liability.
- Keep the generator dry.
- Temporary-use generators should not be connected to the circuit breaker or fuse box, or plugged into a household outlet.
- Portable generators should only be used with extension cords to power lights and small appliances.
- Permanently installed generators should be wired into your home by a qualified electrician, using a transfer switch to isolate the power. Without that safety feature, electricity could “back feed“ into the utility system, creating danger for anyone near power lines, particularly utility crews working to restore power.
- Generators should only be operated outside a home to prevent toxic and potentially deadly exhaust from entering a home. Keep them away from children and pets.
- When starting a generator, disconnect all appliances that might be connected to it. That will not only protect them, but prevent a fuse from being blown on the generator.
- Connect appliances to portable generators after they have been started. Use only three prong plugs that allow connections to be grounded.
- When refueling generators, allow the engine to cool to prevent a fire should the gas tank overflow.
- Use a heavy duty extension cord rated for the wattage of the load being connected.
- When the generator is no longer needed, allow it to cool down before storing it.