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Electrical Accident Survivor Urges Caution around Power Lines

For Release: August 30, 2012

Contact: Kyla Kruse, 217-546-6815

Be Aware of Electrical Dangers in the Wake of a Hurricane

Safe Electricity Offers Safety Tips

(SPRINGFIELD, IL)—Isaac—as both hurricane and tropical storm—has already caused massive flooding in the Louisiana and Mississippi. The storm is projected to cause more flooding as its heavy rains move further inland. In addition, already more than 800,000 are reported to be out of power in five states. With downed power lines and wide-spread flooding, it is important to be aware of the electrical hazards in the wake of this storm.

Safe Electricity reminds everyone to be alert to electrical equipment that could be energized and in contact with water. Cleaning up and using water-damaged appliances also carry safety risks.

“The prospect of an electrical accident is probably not top of mind when you’re dealing with a flooded basement, room or even outdoors,” said Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. “However, it’s the first thing you should think of before you step foot in the water.”

Safe Electricity offers these tips to help you and your family stay safe in flooding situations:

  • Never step into a flooded basement or other room if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances or cords.
  • Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you cannot reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
  • Never use electric appliances or touch electric wires, switches or fuses when you’re wet or when you are standing in water.
  • Keep electric tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from wet surfaces. Do not use electric yard tools if it is raining or the ground is wet.
  • If an electrical appliance has been in contact with water, have a professional check it out before it is used. It may need to be repaired or replaced.

“Power lines can be dangerous for anyone, even professionals,” continues Hall. “It is important for everyone to understand the potential hazards that create a serious danger of electric shock.”

Other safety precautions after a storm include:

  • Treat all power lines as energized until there is certainty that power has been disconnected.  Stay clear of fallen power lines and flooded areas that could hide a hazard. Remember, electricity passes easily through water.
  • Do not attempt to drive over a downed power line, and if power lines should fall on your vehicle while you are driving, do not attempt to drive away or get out. Call for help, and stay inside until utility crews say it is safe to get out.
  • 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.
  • If you are using a portable generator, be sure that the main circuit breaker is OFF and locked out prior to starting the generator. This will prevent power lines from back-feeding electricity into the utility system and help protect utility line workers from possible electrocution.

Make sure everyone knows what to do in the event of a disaster. To learn more about safety in the wake of storms, visit www.SafeElectricity.org.

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The Energy Education Council is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety and energy efficiency. Established in 1952, the Council is headquartered within the University of Illinois Extension, and serves as a forum for diverse utility and energy organizations to collaborate on the mutually vital issues of efficiency and safety. Learn more at www.EnergyEdCouncil.org.

 


 

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