Be Prepared for Severe Storms
Library of Articles -
The months of April through July represent the most active months for severe storms, lightning strikes, and tornadoes. Molly Hall, Safe Electricity Executive Director, wants to remind everyone of a few tips to stay safe before, during and after severe storms.
“You never know when a storm may hit, creating potential electrical hazards for your family,” Hall said. “The best solution is to be prepared ahead of time. This checklist will help keep your family safe year round.”
Before the storm:
- Assemble a kit of essentials, like battery-operated flashlights and radios. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers that includes the electric utility. Be prepared for the possibility of a prolonged outage due to power line and electric equipment damage.
- Fill spare containers with water for washing, and keep a supply of bottled drinking water on hand. Maintain a supply of non-perishable food items, along with a hand opener for canned food.
- During an outage, switch off lights and appliances to prevent overloading circuits and damaging appliances when power is restored. Leave one lamp or switch on as a signal for when your power returns.
- Be sure to tune into your local weather station if you suspect severe weather is brewing. Understand the National Weather Service warning classification system. A tornado or severe storm watch means that conditions are favorable for those weather conditions forming. A warning means that dangerous weather conditions are developing and imminent.
- Consider having Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) professionally installed or purchasing a portable GFCI. GFCIs can cut off power if there is a problem and are recommended for outdoor outlets and areas of the home that are prone to water exposure such as basements, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, etc.
- Lightning can travel up to ten miles away from a storm, so seek shelter as soon as you hear thunder.
After the storm:
- When venturing outside after a severe storm, stay away from downed power lines and be alert to the possibility that tree limbs or debris may hide an electrical hazard. Assume that any dangling wires you encounter are electrical, and treat all downed or hanging power lines as if they are energized. Warn others to stay away and contact the electric utility.
- If you are driving and come upon a downed power line, stay in your vehicle, warn others to stay away and contact emergency personnel or electric utility. Also when driving, be careful at intersections where traffic lights may be out. Stop at all railroad crossings, and treat road intersections with traffic signals as a four-way stop before proceeding with caution.
- Before re-entering storm-damaged buildings or rooms, be sure all electric and gas services are turned off. Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you can’t reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
- Never step into a flooded basement or other area if water is covering electrical outlets, appliances or cords. Be alert to any electrical equipment that could be energized and in contact with water. Never touch electrical appliances, cords or wires while you are wet or standing in water.
- Cleaning up and using water-damaged appliances also carry safety risks. Electric motors in appliances that have been drenched or submerged should be thoroughly cleaned and reconditioned before they are put back into service. It may be necessary to repair or replace electrical appliances or tools that have been in contact with water. Do not use any water-damaged appliance until a professional has checked it out.
- When using a generator, follow all manufacturers’ recommendations to avoid tragedy. Keep the generator dry and never plug it into a wall outlet or directly into the home’s wiring. This could inadvertently energize the utility lines and injure yourself or others working to restore power.