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Severe Storm Safety

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Electrical Safety During Severe Storms

Hurricanes & other storms often result in flooding
The Electrical Safety Foundation International warns consumers to beware of the dangers hurricanes and other severe weather can cause when water comes in contact with electricity.

To protect against the hazards of the aftermath of severe storms, ESFI offers this safety advice:

  • Take care when stepping into a flooded area, and be aware that submerged outlets or electrical cords may energize the water, posing a potential lethal trap.
  • Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances, such as furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers. For those that have been under water, have them reconditioned by a qualified service repairman, or purchase new ones.
  • Take special care with portable electric generators, which can provide a good source of power, but if improperly installed or operated, can become deadly.
  • Do not connect generators directly to household wiring. Power from generators can backfeed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs. A qualified, licensed electrician should install your generator to ensure that it meets local electrical codes.
  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded.
  • Keep the generator dry.
  • Always follow the generator maunfacturer's guidelines regarding appliances and extension cords.
  • Make sure extension cords used with generators are rated for the load, and are free of cuts, worn insulation, and have three-pronged plugs.
  • Do not overload the generator.
  • Do not operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly.

Use a ground fault circuit interrupter to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and are available at prices ranging from $12 to $30.

Electrical safety tips are available at the Foundation's website, at www.electrical-safety.org, or call 703-841-3229.

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