Spring has arrived and with it comes the potential for thunderstorms and the possibility of downed power lines. It is important to keep yourself and your family safe and know what to do if your power lines come down during a thunderstorm.
The weather patterns have been changing recently. There have been an abnormal number of violent storms with lightning and “micro-burst” winds. It seems like every week we hear about another report of these incidents.
The 10 Most Important Electrical Safety Steps to Follow if Your Power Lines Come Down During a Thunderstorm.
- DO NOT TOUCH THE POWER LINES UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES . THEY CARRY LETHAL VOLTAGE. Even if they appear to be disconnected from both your home and the street you do not really know if they are safe. A good rule of thumb is to stay 10 metres away. Wet ground can carry electricity.
- Call your Power Supplier. The number is on your electricity bill or can be looked up on the Internet. If you are unable to find the number call 911.
- If the lines have landed on the road; are touching a wire fence or are on top of a vehicle CALL 911. DO NOT TOUCH THE VEHICLE. From a safe distance (minimum 10 metres) communicate by phone, cardboard sign or hand signals that the occupants MUST NOT exit the vehicle.
- Do not hang around the utility/EMS professionals while they are clearing the lines. Their job is critical for everyone’s safety and should not be impeded by questions or, worse, offers of help.
- Call an ECRA/ESA Licenced Contractor that is a member of the Electrical Safety Authority Authorized Contractor Program (ACP) to assess the damage to your home’s wiring system. Only an ACP contractor will be able to get the power turned back on without a physical inspection from the Electrical Safety Authority. The inspection will include all work required to have the utility reconnect the electricity to your home as soon as possible.
- Insist that this assessment includes an inspection of the interior wiring system for damage before power is restored to each circuit. If your home is equipped with surge protection it must be assessed as well to ensure continuing protection. Take pictures of everything from the discovery of the downed lines to the restoration of power. Your insurance company will appreciate these pictures in settling any claim.
- If possible make arrangements to provide temporary power to your fridges and freezers.
- Contact a licensed arborist to remove any downed trees and care for any still standing that have been damaged. Be sure to get a written report from your arborist to share with your insurance company.
- Ask your insurance provider to keep your claim open because surge damage from downed power lines can show up in electronics up to a year after the initial surge.
- Have your electrical system inspected annually, just like your furnace & air conditioner. Reputable companies have yearly inspection programs on a membership basis.
No one can control a natural disaster, but everyone can control their response. Having the correct procedure is key.