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PEC News




Know How to Stay Safe After Storms

Date: March 27, 2017
Topics: Press Releases

Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding can leave more than damage in their wake—they can leave hidden dangers as well. In some cases, more lives are lost after the storm than from the storm itself.

“When you’re dealing with storm cleanup or flood-damaged property, the prospect of an electrical accident is probably not top of mind,” says Safe Electricity’s Molly Hall. “But it’s the first thing you should think of before you go outside, step foot into a flooded area, or enter a storm-damaged building.”

When outside, stay away from downed power lines and be alert to the possibility that tree limbs or debris may hide an electrical hazard. Treat all downed or hanging power lines as if they are energized. Lines do not have to be arcing or sparking to be live. Warn others to stay away, and contact People’s Electric Cooperative.

Do not touch downed power lines, and do not touch objects or puddles of water in contact with those lines. There is no way to know if they are energized. Encountering these objects can be as hazardous as coming into contact with a downed power line itself. 

Safe Electricity offers other precautions following storms: 

  • • 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 People’s Electric Cooperative. Never drive over a downed line, as it could pull down poles and other items along its path.

  • • Be alert at intersections where traffic lights may be out. Stop at all railroad crossings, and treat road intersections with traffic signals as four-way stops 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 cannot reach your breaker box safely, call People’s Electric Cooperative 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.

  • • 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.

  • • 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 replace them. Do not use any water-damaged appliance until a professional has checked it out.

  • • If, after a storm or disaster, the power to your home is out for a prolonged period, know important safety rules, such as never using a charcoal or gas grill to cook inside.

  • • If you use a portable generator, be sure a transfer safety switch has been installed, or connect appliances directly to the generator. This prevents electricity from traveling back through the home to power lines—what is known as “backfeed.” Backfeed creates danger for anyone near lines, particularly crews working to restore power.


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