Dangers of Electricity

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In the aftermath of a hurricane, downed power lines, electrical equipment, and household wiring can all be potentially dangerous and should be dealt with properly. Here’s how to keep yourself and your family safe when faced with such problems.

• If your electrical equipment is wet or near water, turn off the main breaker. If reaching the breaker box or main switch requires entering flood water, call an electrician to turn it off.

• Do not turn electrical equipment back on until it has been professionally inspected.

• Avoid downed power lines, as they may still be energized and dangerous. Stay clear of water touching downed power lines.

• Do not trim trees or remove debris near downed power lines.

• If you’re removing debris that is in or around your home, do not pile it under or near electrical lines or equipment.
• If any appliances were on when the power was lost, be sure to turn them off. If left on, they could be a fire hazard.

• Use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns. Avoid using candles.

• Report any downed power lines to the utility company. Otherwise, keep utility telephone lines clear for emergency calls.

How is power restored after a storm?

Your electric provider will begin assessing damage to the electrical system as soon as the storm passes.

• Power will first be restored to essential services, such as hospitals, traffic signals, shelters, communication centers, and law enforcement.

• Next, your electric provider will work to restore the greatest number of customers in the shortest time.

• Finally, individual services are restored, or those that need reconnection after repairs to damaged electrical systems.

What if my neighbor has power but I don’t?

First, check all your circuit breakers by resetting them. If your breakers aren’t the issue, then:

• Your home may be on a different power feeder line or power transformer.

• The transformer providing power to your location may have been damaged. These are often the last system devices to be repaired, as electrical providers focus on restoring the greatest number of customers first.

• Your weather head conduit (the pipe and wire extending above your roof) is damaged or bent. It must be repaired by an electrician and it must be inspected before power can be restored.

• Your home has its own underground service that may be damaged. If so, it must be repaired by an electrician and it must be inspected before restoring power.

• If none of the above are the issue, and your neighbor’s power is on while yours has not been restored, contact your utility.

About electronics

• Any electronic equipment that has been subject to rain or flood water may not be salvageable, and any attempt to repair it yourself can be dangerous to you and the device. Always use extreme caution around wet electronics, especially if you’re trying to repair or restore them.

• Do not open any electronic appliance to dry the inside. Any tubed television or computer monitor can be especially dangerous, as they can retain dangerously high electric voltages for long periods.

• Unplug electronic items and allow them to dry thoroughly. While the outside may be dry, don’t assume the internal components have dried. Continue drying for several more days.

• To speed up the drying process, place equipment in the sun, but monitor it closely. Bright sunlight can damage liquid crystal displays (LCDs) such as flat-screen televisions and computer monitors.

• When you’re sure the electronic item is completely dry, test it by plugging it in. If it doesn’t work right away, give it another day to dry.

• If the power indicator light comes on, leave the equipment on for about 10 minutes, then turn it off for 30 minutes. Repeat while leaving the appliance on for an extra five minutes on each subsequent try.

• If an electronic appliance’s power indicator does not come on, and the outlet is in good working order, have the appliance professionally repaired.

• If you see smoke or hear crackling sounds, unplug it immediately and take it for repair.

More on Hurricane

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The 2024 Hurricane Outlook

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