The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) encourages consumers to practice caution and safety during summer storms, which at times can be severe. Beware of flooded areas cause by heavy rains -- water and electricity do not mix! Below is safety advice to use following a summer storm:
Flooded areas: Be careful when attempting to walk in flooded areas and remember that submerged outlets or electrical cords could energize the water.
Wet electrical equipment: Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances, such as furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers. Electrical parts can pose a shock hazard or overheat and cause a fire.
A qualified service repair dealer should recondition electrical equipment that has been wet. Certain equipment will require complete replacement, while a trained professional can recondition other devices.
Portable generators: Take special care with portable electric generators, which can provide a good source of power, but if improperly installed or operated, can become deadly. Do not connect generators directly to household wiring. Power from generators can back-feed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line workers making repairs. A qualified, licensed electrician should install your generator to ensure that it meets local electrical codes. Other tips include:
- Make sure your generator is properly grounded.
- Keep the generator dry.
- Make sure extension cords used with generators are rated for the load, and are free of cuts, worn insulation, and have three-pronged plugs.
- Do not overload the generator.
- Do not operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly.
- Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and are available at prices ranging from $12 to $30.