How to avoid dangers of downed power lines amid extreme weather
By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
Severe storms pose a variety of hazards, such as potential electrocution from downed power lines. Unfortunately, many electrical safety hazards remain long after the storm has passed, even if the power is out in that area.
Electrical hazards cause more than 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries each year among the United States workforce alone, not including outside the workforce.
If you see downed power lines, always treat them as if they are energized and dangerous.
"Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and there’s no way to tell if a downed power line is still energized," Darryl Daves said, senior manager of safety for Entergy Corporation.
If water is rising near your home or business, turn off electricity at the main breaker. Evacuate and do not return until waters have completely receded. Wait until the water recedes, then have an electrician check the building's wiring before using electricity.
"Any amount of water could become energized. Be careful not to touch water, or anything in contact with the water, when a downed power line is nearby," Daves said.
Don’t go into any room or basement if water is covering appliance cords that are plugged in or if water has reached the wall outlets.
If electrical appliances and equipment have been under water, allow them to dry out and have them checked out by a qualified repair person before using them.
How to handle flood damage after a hurricane if you're uninsured
How to stay safe when a hurricane causes power outages
Evacuation checklist: How to get your family out safely in the face of an imminent disaster
How to use a generator safely after a hurricane strikes
"It’s not safe to walk through floodwaters, especially after a storm. Often, there is no way to tell if there is a downed power line in the water, and if so, if it’s still energized," Daves said.
Shuffle with your feet taking smalls steps, keeping them close together and on the ground. Daves said this minimizes the potential for a strong electrical shock. Also, fight the urge to run and warn others not to run.
"This is because when a live wire touches the ground, electricity travels through the ground in all directions. Voltage lessens as it travels from where the live wire is touching the ground," Daves said.
"If you run or take large steps, you increase the chance that electricity could come up one leg and go out the other, and you could be shocked," Daves said.
When cleaning up after a flood with equipment like a wet-dry vacuum or a pressure washer, do not allow power cord connections to become wet.
The farther you stay away from downed power lines the better. Don’t walk in flooded areas or in standing water if you don't have to. Also, be aware that tree limbs can conduct electricity.
If you see a downed power line, call your local utility to report it immediately.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - December 13, 2018, 1:48:54 PM EST
Thanks to a quick response and around-the-clock work, road repair crews completed their work in just a few days.
Weather News - December 13, 2018, 2:04:41 PM EST
Owen continues to strengthen and is on track to make a second landfall in northern Queensland with flooding rain and destructive winds at the start of the weekend.
Weather News - December 13, 2018, 12:28:55 PM EST
The recent calm and chilly spell in the United Kingdom will come to a screeching halt this weekend as a potent storm unloads blizzard conditions, soaking rain and strong winds.
Weather News - December 13, 2018, 2:12:38 PM EST
Large storms and cold air are likely to take a break over much of the nation during much of next week ahead of the Christmas holiday.
Weather News - December 13, 2018, 8:40:06 AM EST
The volcanic area west of Naples, Italy, is stirring with early signs of a new caldera cycle for one of the world's most menacing supervolcanoes, according to new research.
Weather News - December 13, 2018, 8:08:04 AM EST
A newly formed depression in the Bay of Bengal is expected to develop into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours and threaten parts of eastern India this weekend.