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ESFI Cautions Consumers About Electrical Hazards

Arlington, VA – In the aftermath of severe weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and flash floods, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is encouraging consumers to be aware of the potential dangers that result when water comes in contact with electricity.

“As families begin to clean up following a flood or storm, it is important to remember that there may still be electrical hazards hidden throughout the home,” says ESFI president Brett Brenner. “Before flipping a switch or plugging in an appliance, have a licensed electrician check the house wiring and appliance to make sure it is safe to use.”

The high winds, extreme rains and flooding caused by hurricanes and tornadoes present many unique dangers. ESFI offers consumers important advice about how to stay safe from the electrical dangers associated with these severe storms:

Submerged Electrical Appliances

Take care when stepping into a flooded area, and be aware that submerged outlets or electrical cords may energize the water, posing a potentially deadly trap.

Electrical items such as circuit breakers, fuses, GFCIs, receptacles, plugs and switches can malfunction when water and silt get inside. Discard them when they have been submerged.

Do not use electrical appliances that have been exposed to water. Water can damage the internal components in electrical appliances and can cause shock and fire hazards in furnaces, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers. If electrical appliances have been under water, have them dried out and reconditioned by a qualified service repairman.

Downed Power Lines

Always assume fallen power lines are energized. Stay at least ten feet away from a downed power line and any nearby objects it may be touching, such as a fence or a tree limb.

Contact your utility company immediately to report downed power lines outside your home.

Never touch a person or object that is in direct or indirect contact with a downed power line. Instead, call 911 immediately.

Never attempt to move a downed power line – leave it to the professionals.

Portable Generators

Do not operate a portable generator in your home, basement, or garage. Generators can very quickly produce high levels of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.

Be sure that the generator is dry and properly grounded. Plug appliances directly into the generator to prevent back feed along the power lines.

Make sure that there is at least one working carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test the batteries at least twice a year, at the same time smoke detector batteries are tested.

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