Electrical Safety Precautions During Hurricanes

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) warns consumers to beware of the dangers hurricanes cause when water comes in contact with electricity.

“Electrical safety guidelines are always important. During cleanup following a flood, electrical safety precautions can help avoid further loss and tragedy,” noted Anne Mayberry, ESFI Program Manager.

To protect against the hazards of the aftermath of hurricanes and floods, ESFI offers this safety advice:

  • 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.
  • 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. For those that have been under water, have them reconditioned by a qualified service repairman.
  • 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.
  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded.
  • Keep the generator dry.
  • Do not plug appliances directly into the generator.
  • 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 dioxide 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.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety in the home, school, and workplace. To commemorate National Electrical Safety Month, ESFI spearheads an annual campaign each May to educate key audiences about the steps that can be taken in order to reduce the number of electrically-related fires, fatalities, injuries, and property loss. For more information about ESFI and National Electrical Safety Month, visit www.esfi.org.