In the aftermath of the severe snow storms that ravaged the Buffalo recently and the current warm temperatures giving way to melting snow, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is encouraging Buffalo residents to be aware of the potential dangers that can result when water comes in contact with electricity.
The U.S. National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Monday and also cautioned residents to beware of falling snow-covered trees as well as downed power lines and resulting power outages.
ESFI is offering area residents 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.
Have an electrician inspect electrical appliances that have been wet, and do not turn on or plug in appliances unless an electrician tells you it is safe. Electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely dangerous if reenergized without proper reconditioning or replacement.
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 10 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.
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.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety. ESFI proudly sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May, and engages in public education campaigns throughout the year to prevent electrical fires, injuries, and fatalities in the home and the workplace. For more information about ESFI and National Electrical Safety Month, visit www.esfi.org.