Electrical safety during storms

Electrical safety during storms
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    Are you ready for bad weather? Your electrical system isn’t. Specific electrical hazards that can cause potential harm to homeowners and their families. Learn how to keep your family safe by ensuring electrical safety during storms. We’ve prepared some of the best tips to prepare your electrical system for a storm.

    Prepare for storms and floods

    Before a storm or rainy season arrives:

    • Install safety switches and test them regularly.
    • Know where to turn off emergency power, gas and water supplies.
    • Gather unused electrical equipment and store it in a safe place.
    • Unplug outdoor TVs and floating antennas and keep them in a dry place.
    • When a storm approaches, turn off and unplug electrical equipment.
    • Use safe isolation procedures to shut down your solar PV system.

    Follow these simple tips to keep you and your belongings safe during a storm or flood:

    • Listen to local radio stations for the latest weather information.
    • Turn off the electrical outlet and unplug electrical equipment during a power outage.
    • Do not use a landline during a thunderstorm – you could get electrocuted.
    • If flooding is expected, move electrical equipment to a higher location.
    • Stay away from power lines, trees and waterways.
    Electrical safety during storms

    Cleaning up after a storm or flood

    Cleaning up safely after a storm is essential.

    • Listen to your local radio station for further warnings and advice.
    • Report down low voltage or damaged power lines to emergency services or your local power distribution entity and stay away from them.
    • Stay away from electrical signs, street lights, cables, insulating foil, or other conductive materials that may be located around your property.
    • If the power strip is damaged by water, fire or lightning strike, move away, do not touch it, and warn others to do the same.
    • Don’t do electrical work yourself – it’s illegal and dangerous. Always use a licensed electrician; use our Electrical License Search (ELIS) to check if your electrician is licensed.
    • If you have a solar power system, avoid going on the roof unless necessary, and keep away from the solar panels and their cables.
    • If there is asbestos, ensure you know how to clean it up safely.
    Cleaning up after a storm or flood

    Property or connection damage

    If storms or floods have damaged your property or connecting lines, you may need to perform proof tests on electrical panels, wiring, equipment and appliances before reconnecting them to ensure the circuits are still working.

    A licensed electrician will be required to perform this task, and a test certificate will ensure that your local distribution entity can reconnect your service.

    Solar PV systems

    If your solar PV system is damaged, have a licensed electrician inspect it, make any repairs and check its electrical safety before recommissioning. This inspection must be completed before other cleanups around the photovoltaic cells and associated wiring can begin.

    Even if the network power is off, the PV system will continue to generate voltage during the day, so the PV cells and associated wiring will still be live.

    During cleanup:

    • Do not attempt to shut down the system after a storm/flood/hurricane.
    • Keep away from solar panels and wires.
    • Have an electrician check the system.
    • Following the startup procedure if your system has been reviewed and is safe.
    generator for street use

    Electrical equipment

    Using water-damaged equipment can cause electric shock and fire, so make sure to:

    • Have a licensed electrician repair water-affected appliances such as kettles, toasters and televisions.
    • Have a licensed electrician inspect all water-damaged hard-wired appliances, such as air conditioning units or stoves, for reuse. This safety check may be required before reconnecting power.


    Electricity from power generators can be dangerous, so make sure you:

    • Use a generator transfer switch and an appropriate outlet to connect the generator to your house wiring. A licensed electrician must install these switches.
    • Do not use a power point or any other connection point on the mains circuit to connect the generator to your house. This can lead to dangerous “back feeding”.
    • Ensure all wires connected to the generator are in good working order.
    • Use a power strip with an overload cut-off switch.
    • Run the generator outside or in a well-ventilated area.
    • Do not exceed the generator’s rated load; follow the generator manufacturer‘s instructions.

    Flooded area

    My washer, dryer and some other appliances got wet during the flood. Can I use them again after they dry out?

    Please do not use a wet appliance until a qualified service repair dealer has inspected it. Electrical equipment exposed to water can be dangerous if re-energized without proper repair or replacement.

    Will the flood affect my home’s electrical system or just the appliances?

    Electrical products such as circuit breakers, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), fuses, receptacles, plugs and switches can fail when water and sediment get in. Discard them if they become submerged. Have them replaced by a licensed, qualified professional.

    Does it make a difference if the flood is caused by rain or a leaky water pipe?

    Seawater and salt spray are particularly damaging to electrical equipment due to saltwater residues’ corrosive and conductive properties. Exposure to flood water contaminated with chemicals, sewage, oil, and other debris can also cause damage to electrical equipment. Whatever the cause of the flooding, appliances should be inspected by a qualified repair service before reusing, and flooded appliances should be discarded and replaced by a licensed and skilled professional.

    Are the flooded areas outside also at risk?

    Yes – downed power lines or flooded outlets in neighboring houses could power the water supply. Use caution when entering any flooded area.

    Pay attention to the safety of the generator

    Electrical safety during lightning

    Lightning storms look spectacular, and no one will blame you if you get mesmerized. Still, to avoid electrocution hazards, there are a few things you should do before enjoying the storm:

    • At the first thunderclap, unplug all electrical appliances. Appliances may be damaged if connected to a circuit during a thunderstorm.
    • Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. To minimize the risk of electric shock, avoid touching water, pipes, sinks, or faucets as much as possible during a storm. Do not bathe or shower during a lightning storm.
    • Avoid using any electrical equipment in direct contact with an electrical circuit, such as computers and corded phones, when there is lightning.

    Electrical safety during/after floods

    Flood waters often carry chemicals, oil and debris. All of these can damage circuits and appliances. If you think the water level may be rising, try unplugging and elevating any appliances or equipment.

    All appliances that come into contact with water, especially those submerged ones, must be inspected by a professional electrician before use. If they come into contact with water, a qualified electrician must check the following:

    • breaker
    • fuse
    • plug
    • Outlets
    • switch
    Electrical safety during high winds

    Electrical safety during high winds

    Strong winds and flying debris can wreak havoc significantly if power lines are damaged. Damaged power cords, especially if cables are on the ground, are hazardous and should not be touched. We cannot stress this enough. Only licensed, skilled professionals should handle damaged power cords.

    The human body is a very good conductor of electricity, so if you experience a damaged power cord:

    • report them ASAP
    • don’t drive past them
    • Do not touch them or try to move them, especially if they are near water

    If someone is electrocuted by a power cord, whether or not they are still in contact with the cable:

    • Call 911 immediately.
    • Keep at least ten feet apart. If they are conscious, reassure them, but do not touch or try to move them.

    Develop a pre-storm electrical safety plan

    When it comes to electrical safety during a storm, the adage “prevention is better than cure” applies very well. You can minimize the risk of dangerous electrical safety hazards during and after a storm if you have an electrical safety checklist that you can check off before the storm.

    Some things you should include in your checklist are:

    • Install regularly tested electrical safety switches.
    • Prepare a safe, dry place to store appliances and equipment during a storm. This area should be elevated if possible. The whole family has to know where this area is so they can move things quickly if necessary.
    • Everyone in the family must know how to turn off the main power in an emergency.
    • Everyone must know what they can and cannot do during a storm; for example, everyone must know they cannot shower or bathe.
    • Prepare a list of all indoor and outdoor electrical equipment and appliances that must be unplugged or moved during a storm. A checklist that everyone can refer to minimizes the risk of forgetting something.
    • Basic first aid knowledge is essential for everyone, especially knowing what to do if someone gets electrocuted.
    Whole House Surge Protectors in Your Hands

    The power of a whole-house surge protector during a storm

    While we strongly recommend unplugging all possible appliances during a thunderstorm, many homeowners are understandably reluctant to unplug appliances like refrigerators or freezers. After all, no one wants their food to go wrong. Fortunately, a great solution to this problem is whole-house surge protectors.

    You can save thousands of dollars in damages by installing a whole-house surge protector in your home, which is more effective than using a wall outlet surge protector. Whole house surge protectors are designed to protect your home from lightning damage by safely redirecting excess current to the ground. Best of all, most units fit easily inside your home’s main breaker box.

    A whole house surge protector can provide peace of mind if you leave your home when a storm hits. You no longer have to worry about losing your high-end appliances. Whole-house surge protectors also reduce the risk of electrical fires caused by lightning strikes.


    While storms pose real dangers, there are many things you can do to minimize their potential damage. Keeping your home’s electrical system up to date is one of the best precautions to ensure electrical safety during storms. An experienced electric company in your area can spot any problems during a home electrical inspection and fix them before lightning finds them. Fixing those flickering lights and tripped circuit breakers now can also improve the quality of your everyday life.

    Electrical safety FAQ

    If you see a broken power line, move at least 10 feet away from it and anything touching it. The human body is a very good conductor of electricity.

    The proper way to avoid this line is to move in small steps, keeping your feet together on the ground at all times. This will minimize the possibility of a strong electric shock. Electricity wants to move from areas of high voltage to areas of low pressure - and it can do this through your body.

    If you see someone directly or indirectly touching a fallen rope, do not touch that person. You could be the next victim. Please call for professionals instead.

    Storms present a host of electrical hazards. Lightning storms are notorious for causing electrical damage inside and outside the home. Be aware of the following electrical hazards to keep you and your family secure during a storm:


    • Lightning strike
    • Dropped power cord
    • Fallen trees
    • Stagnant water
    • Frayed wires and other electrical openings
    • Wet electrical equipment
    • and more.

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