Thursday, 22 October 2020

News — Ensure Electrical Safety During Severe Weather Conditions

Ensure Electrical Safety During Severe Weather Conditions
A fallen electricity pole poses great danger

Storm Season Hazards and Precaution

The summer season is upon us.  This year, we have been blessed with early rains.  In previous years, we knew to start expecting rains in the month of October, however, this year gave us rains in the month of September.  While this is a blessing to the nation, we can’t avoid the severe weather conditions that this season can bring.  Storms, floods and other severe weather conditions don't only disrupt daily routines, they can pose risks and dangers if you're not prepared. A major danger during severe-weather events is electrical hazards.  It is therefore important for us to prepare ourselves for this season, in order to avoid unnecessary electricity accidents.  In today’s article, we look at the dangers of electricity in the rainy season and tips on how to avoid accidents that can be caused by these dangers.

It is of utmost importance to always remember that water is a great conductor of electricity, furthermore, the human body is made of up to 60% water, meaning that an electric current can pass through ones body, and cause harm, or even worse, it can cause them death.  This therefore emphasizes the need for one to be aware of the dangers of electricity during rain, as well as the precautions necessary for safety.

Preparation is key before a storm as it can minimize risks and dangers during and after severe weather.  Here are tips to use as you prepare for an upcoming severe weather event at your home:

  • Loose items - Secure or pack away loose items that could be carried away by strong winds and damage property and power lines.
  • Power lines - Check out the power lines near your house. If they aren’t well clear of trees and other structures, you are encouraged to contact the utility company (EEC) to have them checked out. You might need to have a qualified tree worker clear away overreaching branches to reduce the risk of branches damaging power lines.
  • Prepare supplies - Put together a box of essentials for use during the storm or flood. For example, have on hand a torch with spare batteries, radio, bottled water, blankets, food and refreshments.

  • Electrical equipment - Switch and unplug all electrical equipment before the event strikes.
  • Solar panels - If you have solar power, switch it off using the recommended safe isolation procedure. After the event, stay away from the system until you have it checked by a professional.
  • Surge protectors - Have a surge protector installed on your electricity switchboard. This can protect your appliances and other electrical items in the event of a power surge.
  • One issue to avoid in severe weather conditions is that of electric shocks.   An electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with electricity or electrical energy. Electrical energy flows through a portion of the body causing a shock. Exposure to electrical energy may result in devastating damage or death.  When floods rise and strong winds take down powerlines, electric shocks are possible hazards. One needs to take precaution to avoid electric shocks because not only can they burn the body, they may also cause permanent cell damage.  Here are precautions to follow in order to avoid electrical shocks:

    Ensure Electrical Safety During Severe Weather Conditions
    Flooded road

    • Should it happen that a thunderstorm or lighting find you on the street, make sure to seek shelter immediately.  Lighting is one transmitter of electric currents, meaning it can cause you an electrical shock.
    • If you see a fallen power line, which could be making contact with tree limbs, vehicles and puddles, always stay away from it. There is no way of knowing whether or not the power line is still live, and if you happen to touch it, you could get an electric shock that could harm you or even be deadly. Make sure to contact EEC for any fallen power line before it causes harm to the community.
    • If you're on the road, consider parking your car on the side of the road and stay away from watercourses, power lines, and trees.  Stay inside your car.
    • Avoid using your landline phone during a storm as it can lead to an electric shock. However, if your wired phone is on a fibre-optic network (rather than traditional landline) it's probably safe. Additionally, it's likely safe to use your mobile unless you're outside.

    Many people often forget one element of severe weather preparation: the safety of their electrical appliances.  It’s essential that you prepare your home’s appliances before a storm. The cost of repairs could get extensive if you don’t, and the last thing you want to worry about after a storm is your fridge, TV, etc.  Use these tips as precaution to protect your appliances from damage:

    • Unplug every piece of technology that you have — especially appliances. Surges can occur even when your power is out, so make sure to leave everything unplugged during the storm.
    • If you’re going to be leaving your home before the storm, make sure to shut off your water valve. Breaks in pipes and appliance hoses can cause excessive damage to your home. This is especially relevant to washing machines and dishwashers.
    • There are some appliances that may be too heavy for you to move. Those that are lightweight, however, should be stored in an area of your house that is well above the ground.  This will prevent most flooding from reaching your appliances. If possible, wrap the storage boxes with plastic. Doing this will help to combat any water that does reach the storage area.

    Severe weather events can be disruptive and dangerous, so preparation and taking care are vital. Plan ahead to reduce the risk of electrical shock and stay aware of potential electrical dangers during and after the event. By staying alert and connected, you can give you and your family the best chance of avoiding dangerous electrical accidents. 

    Ensure Electrical Safety During Severe Weather Conditions
    severe weather