Making sure that you and your family stay safe is obviously one of your primary concerns. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can ever do to fully eliminate all risks. Still, there are plenty of precautions you can take, and this is especially true when it comes to protecting yourself and your family from the many potential electrical hazards that can arise during a storm. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash floods, hurricanes, and other storms can all lead to dangerous conditions and greatly increase the risk of injury from fires, burns, and electrocution. Luckily, there are a few simple steps that you can take to decrease these risks and hopefully ensure that you and your family stay safe during an extreme weather event.
Avoiding Hazards During a Thunderstorm
The biggest risk during a thunderstorm is lightning. In fact, lightning doesn’t even have to strike on or around your home for you to potentially get shocked. Thunderstorms can release a huge amount of electrical energy into the air, and this can create an electrocution risk if lightning hits your house or your power line.
Water is an extremely efficient conductor of electricity. Therefore, you should never take a shower or a bath during a thunderstorm as it puts you at extreme risk of death by electric shock. You should also never wash your dishes, run the water in your sink, or use your plumbing whatsoever. You should especially avoid touching any metal plumbing parts such as your water taps or even the handle on your toilet.
The combination of water and metal plumbing pipes makes an extremely effective conduit that can send electricity throughout your entire plumbing system if your house is struck by lightning. For this reason, you really shouldn’t sit on or use the toilet until the storm is over as even this carries the potential of electric shock.
A lightning strike can also send a huge surge of electricity throughout your home’s electrical system. This can create a risk for electrocution and fire as well as damage to your appliances and other electronic devices. To prevent damage to your electronics, it is best to unplug everything as soon as you hear the first thunderclap. Avoid plugging anything back in until the storm is over.
To avoid the risk of electrocution, you should not use any electronic devices and avoid touching any outlets or light switches until the storm has passed. You should particularly avoid using or even touching computers or landline phones. Laptops and cell phones are generally okay to use if they are not plugged into an outlet. In addition, you should try not to touch anything else made of metal whenever lightning is present.
Electrical Safety During and After Flooding
Floods can create a huge number of electrical hazards. This is just as true for floods caused by hurricanes or torrential rainstorms as it is for flooding that results from broken pipes or any other issues. If you encounter a building that is flooded, whether it is your house or anywhere else, you should never go inside unless you are 100% sure that the power is off. Otherwise, you run a serious risk of electrocution.
If you are under a hurricane or flash flood warning, it is always best to shut off your power before the storm hits to ensure you avoid electrical hazards. Similarly, if your basement or even your yard begins to flood, the very first step is to flip your main circuit breaker to shut off the power coming into the house. You should also unplug all appliances and, if possible, elevate any appliances off the floor to hopefully prevent them from being damaged.
There are also steps you will need to take to prevent electrical hazards after a flood. You should never use any electronics that have been exposed to water until you have them fully inspected by a professional electrician. In addition, don’t use any water-exposed appliances as well as your outlets, lights, light switches, circuit breakers, fuses, plugs, etc. Even if they don’t look damaged, there is still a high risk of short circuits, ground fault surges, and other electrical issues.
Electrical Hazards Due to Extreme Wind
The primary electrical hazard you may encounter due to extreme winds is a downed power line. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms can all rip power lines down. The same issue can also result from too much snow or ice weighing down the line. Downed power lines can be extremely dangerous and can fatally electrocute you even if you don’t touch the line.
The human body is unfortunately a great conductor of electricity. As a result, if you get too close to a downed power line, the electricity can travel through the air and electrocute you. For this reason, it is essential that you never come within 10 feet of a downed power line even if you think the line isn’t live. This also means you should never try to rescue anyone who has been shocked by a down power line whether they are touching the line or not. Instead, keep your distance and call 911.
Strong winds or a storm may also cause a power line to fall on your house. If this occurs when you’re not in the house, you need to stay far away until the power company can take care of the problem. However, if a power line falls on your house while you are inside, you need to stay inside until the power company fixes the issue and tells you it is safe to come out.
If you do need to leave the house because of an emergency, make sure to exit as far away from the downed line as possible. When exiting, never pick up your feet off the ground. Instead, you should slowly shuffle your feet along the ground to reduce the risk of electrocution. If possible, you should also wear shoes with thick rubber soles.
If the line is on your house with you inside, you need to take these additional steps to keep yourself safe from potential electrical hazards and electrocution. Don’t use or touch any electrical appliances, outlets, light switches, etc. Stay away from anything metal. Avoid all contact with water, and don’t touch any plumbing fixtures. Don’t use land-line telephones.
Expert Electrical Services and More
Making sure that your home’s electrical system is working properly and in good shape also helps to minimize the risks during a storm. At Davis & Green Services, our expert electricians are always on hand to inspect your electrical system and your appliances to ensure they are safe.
We specialize in all types of electrical repairs, installation, and whole-home rewiring. If you’re having any issues with your heating or cooling system or need a new furnace or AC, we also have a team of highly trained HVAC experts that are ready to assist you in any way they can. Besides that, we offer a full range of plumbing services from drain cleaning and pipe repair to new plumbing installations.
We’re located in Richmond, VA, and we also service residential customers in Chesterfield, Tuckahoe, Midlothian, and other nearby communities. Give us a call at Davis & Green Services today if you have any questions about our services.