Electrical Safety Tips During and After A Storm
What should I do if I am caught outside during a lightning storm?
- Move to a low point. Lightning hits the tallest available object, so get down low in a crouched position if you are in an exposed area.
- Stay away from trees.
- Avoid metal. Don’t hold onto metal items like bats, golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools. Stay away from metal sheds, clotheslines, poles and fences.
- Stay away from water, including pools, lakes, puddles and anything damp—like grass.
- Don’t stand close to other people. Spread out.
Is there any sort of warning before lightning strikes?
Not necessarily, but sometimes. If you feel a tingling sensation or your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike. Do not lie down. Instead, crouch down, tuck your head and cover your ears.
What should I do if I encounter a lightning storm while driving in my car?
Slow down and use extra caution. If possible, pull off the road into a safe area.
Am I safer in or out of my car?
Do not leave your vehicle during a thunderstorm. A vehicle is considered safe during a thunderstorm if it is fully enclosed with a metal top such as a hard-topped car, minivan, bus, truck, etc. While inside a safe vehicle do not use electronic devices, such as radio communications.
The storm is still raging outside. Are we safe from lightning if we stay inside the house?
Follow these indoor lightning safety tips to help keep your family safe inside while it’s storming outside:
- To avoid lightning strikes, stay away from windows and doors.
- If possible, unplug electronic equipment before the storm arrives. Avoid contact with electrical equipment and cords during storms.
- Avoid contact with water and plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
Can I talk on the telephone during an electrical storm?
Use corded telephones only for emergencies. You can use cordless or cellular phones.
I have an outside dog. Is it okay to leave him out there during a lightning storm?
Doghouses are not lightning-safe and chained animals can easily become victims of lightning strikes. You should bring your pets inside to protect them.
When thunderstorms are rolling your way, stay safe with these helpful tips:
- Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
- Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
- If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
- Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
- Close windows and outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
- Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
- If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
- If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall, isolated trees and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.
What should I do if I encounter a downed power line?
If you see a downed power line, move at least 10 feet away from the line and anything touching it. The human body is a ready conductor of electricity.
The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage zone—and it could do that through your body.
What can I do to help someone who has come in contact with a downed power line?
If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 instead.
Can I use something that is not metal to try to move a downed power line myself?
Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object, such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and then electrocute you.
What should I do if I see a downed power line in the street while I am driving my car?
Do not drive over downed power lines.
What if a power line comes down onto my car or I didn’t see it until I’ve driven into it?
If you are in your car and it is in contact with the downed line, stay in your car. Tell others to stay away from your vehicle. If you must leave your car because it’s on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with the live car and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the car to the earth. Shuffle away from the car.
Is a downed power line still dangerous if it has come down in water, like a pool or pond?
Water is a good conductor of electricity. Any amount of water—even a puddle—could become energized. Be careful not to touch water—or anything in contact with the water—near where there is a downed power line.
My basement has flooded and there is standing water. Is it safe to go down there?
Use extreme care when stepping into flooded areas. Submerged outlets or electrical cords can energize water, posing a lethal trap.
My washer, dryer and a few other appliances got really wet during the flood. Can I start using them again after they dry out?
Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet until they have been examined by a qualified service repair dealer. Electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely dangerous if re-energized without proper reconditioning or replacement.
Does a flood affect my home’s electrical system, too, or just the appliances?
Electrical items, such as circuit breakers, fuses, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), receptacles, plugs and switches, can malfunction when water and silt get inside. Discard them if they have been submerged. Have a licensed, qualified professional replace them.
Does it make a difference if the flood was caused by storm water or by a leaky water pipe?
Ocean water and salt spray can be particularly damaging to electrical equipment due to the corrosive and conductive nature of the salt water residue. Damage to electrical equipment can also result from exposure to flood waters contaminated with chemicals, sewage, oil and other debris.
No matter what caused the flood, electrical appliances should be examined by a qualified service repair dealer before being re-energized and electrical items that were submerged should be discarded and replaced by a licensed, qualified professional.
Can flooded outside areas be dangerous too?
Yes—downed power lines or submerged outlets from adjacent homes could energize the water. Use extreme caution when entering any flooded area.