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Watch for Hidden Hazards after a Storm

Watch for Hidden Hazards after a Storm

Storms can take down power lines and create a dangerous situation for entire communities, including the line crew working hard to get power turned back on. How long it takes to get power restored depends on the extent of the storm’s destruction, the number of outages, and when it becomes safe for utility personnel to get to the damaged areas. To stay safe, it is important to take safety precautions after a storm and be on the lookout for hidden hazards, such as downed power lines.

        Steve Wald, his two boys, and their friend witnessed the danger of storm damage first-hand when they found themselves caught in a storm while riding bicycles home from a local park. Just down the street along their path home, the force of the storm brought down a power line—in spectacular fashion with flashes, sparks, fire, and smoke.

        “You may not see it. You may not hear it. But if you see a downed line, assume it’s hot and stay very far away from it,” says Steve.

Other safety precautions to take after a storm include:

  • Before entering storm-damaged buildings, make sure electricity and gas are turned off.
  • If you are inspecting your home in the dark, use a flashlight rather than a candle or some other open flame to avoid the risk of fire or explosion due to a gas leak.
  • Never enter a flooded basement if electrical outlets are under water.
  • Do not turn power off if you must stand in water to do so. Call your electric utility, and have them turn off power at the meter.
  • If you see frayed wiring or sparks or if there is an odor of something burning, shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you know how and can do so safely. 
  • If you smell gas, or suspect a leak, get out of the house.  Call 911, and notify your gas utility immediately.

Do not venture out on roads after a storm unless you have to. If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed power line, do not leave the car. Wait for utility and emergency professionals to make sure the power line is de-energized before exiting the car.

When it comes time to clean up after the storm, do not use water-damaged electronics before properly restoring them. Electric motors in appliances should be cleaned and reconditioned before use. It may be necessary to replace some of your appliances and electronics. Have your water-damaged items inspected and approved by a professional before using them.

        Get more safety information at SafeElectricity.org

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