Electrical Safety Precautions During Disasters
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Electrical Safety Foundation International
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) warns consumers to beware of electrical dangers associated with power outages, floods and severe storms.
By following key safety precautions when dealing with electricity during and after storms and other disasters, you can help prevent death, injuries and property damage. Use this electrical safety checklist from ESFI, and visit www.electrical-safety.org for additional electrical safety tips and news.
Take care when stepping into a flooded area, and be aware that submerged outlets or electrical cords may energize the water, posing a potential lethal trap.
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.
A qualified service repair dealer should recondition electrical equipment that has been wet. For more information, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has produced a brochure, Guidelines for Handling Water Damaged Electrical Equipment, for use by suppliers, installers, inspectors, and users of electrical products to provide advice on the safe handling of electrical equipment that has been exposed to water. It outlines which items will require complete replacement or can be reconditioned by a trained professional. Equipment covered includes electrical distribution equipment, motor circuits, power equipment, transformers, wire, cable and flexible cords, wiring devices, GFCIs and surge protectors, lighting fixtures and ballasts, motors, electronic products including signaling, protection, communication systems, industrial controls, and cable trays.
The entire brochure has been incorporated into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s manual, Principles and Practices for the Design and Construction of Flood Resistant Building Utility Systems, which is intended for developers, architects, engineers, builders, code officials, and homeowners who are involved in designing and constructing building utility systems for residential and nonresidential structures. The NEMA brochure may be downloaded free of charge at: www.nema.org/stds/water-damaged.cfm.
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 backfeed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs. A qualified, licensed electrician should install your generator to ensure that it meets local electrical codes. Other tips include:
Downed Power Lines
These can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death. The following tips can keep you safe around downed lines:
Founded in 1994 through a joint effort between Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is North America’s only non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety in the home, school and workplace. ESFI is a 501(c)(3) organization funded by electrical manufacturers and distributors, independent testing laboratories, utilities, safety and consumer groups, and trade and labor associations. ESFI sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May, and engages in public education campaigns and proactive media relations to help reduce property damage, personal injury and death due to electrical accidents. The Foundation does not engage in code or standard writing or lobbying and does not solicit individuals.
For additional electrical safety information, visit the Foundation’s web site at www.electrical-safety.org or call 703-841-3229.
Electrical safety tips are available at the Electrical Safety Foundation International’s web site, at www.electrical-safety.org, or call (703) 841-3229. For news and information on electrical manufacturers, visit NEMA at www.nema.org.
Electrical Safety Foundation International
1300 N. 17th St., Suite 1800
Rosslyn, VA 22209
Phone: 703-841-3229/Fax: 703-841-3329