BECi Reminds Members to Stay Safe During Summer Storms
Here in Southwest Louisiana, storms can occur suddenly and without warning putting a damper on summer plans. Summer storms tend to happen quickly with dramatic winds and lightning strikes in a very short timeframe. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service, thunderstorms are more frequent and more severe during the summer months because of the increase in basic elements needed to create a thunderstorm – moisture and rapidly rising warm air.
To help protect you from storm-related electrical hazards, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and Beauregard Electric are providing answers to common storm safety questions below.
What should I do if I am caught outside during a lightning storm?
- Move to a low point. Lightning hits the tallest available object, so get down low in a crouched position if you are in an exposed area.
- Stay away from trees.
- Avoid metal. Don’t hold onto metal items like bats, golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets, or tools. Stay away from metal sheds, clotheslines, poles, and fences.
- Stay away from water, including pools, lakes, puddles, and anything damp—like grass.
- Don’t stand close to other people. Spread out.
How can I stay safe from lightning inside my house?
- To avoid lightning strikes, stay away from windows and doors.
- If possible, unplug electronic equipment before the storm arrives. Avoid contact with electrical equipment and cords during storms.
- Avoid contact with water and plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
What should I do if I encounter a downed power line?
If you see a downed power line, move at least 10 feet away from the line and anything touching it. The human body is a conductor of electricity.
The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock.
What can I do to help someone who has come in contact with a downed power line?
If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 instead.
What if a power line comes down onto my car or I didn’t see it until I’ve driven into it?
If you are in your car and it is in contact with the downed line, stay in your car. Tell others to stay away from your vehicle.
If you must leave your car because it is on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with the live car and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the car to the earth. Shuffle away from the car.
Is a downed power line still dangerous if it has come down in water, like a pool or pond?
Water is a good conductor of electricity. Any amount of water—even a puddle—could become energized. Be careful not to touch water—or anything in contact with the water—near where there is a downed power line.
I bought a new generator so that I’d be prepared for the next power outage. Is there anything special I should know about installing it?
ESFI strongly recommends that a licensed electrician install home generators to ensure they meet all local electrical codes.
Also, make sure your generator is properly grounded in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Can’t I just plug my generator directly into one of my home’s outlets?
Do not connect generators directly to the household wiring unless an appropriate transfer switch has been installed by a licensed, qualified electrician.
What could happen if I don’t have a transfer switch installed?
Without the proper transfer switch, power provided by the generator can “backfeed” along the power lines, creating a significant electrocution hazard for anyone coming in contact with the lines, including lineworkers making necessary repairs.
Can I run my generator from inside my garage or home?
Never operate a generator inside your home or in any other enclosed—or even partially enclosed—area. Generators very quickly produce carbon monoxide, which can easily enter your home.
Place the generator on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure. Do not operate the generator in wet conditions or where there is standing water.
Can’t I just open the garage door to provide ventilation for the carbon monoxide?
Opening windows or doors or using fans does not provide adequate ventilation to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide. Generators must be located outside a safe distance away from your home’s windows, doors, and vents, through which carbon monoxide can enter your home.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include fatigue, shortness of breath, drowsiness, headache, and nausea. Get to fresh air right away if you feel dizzy or weak while running your generator.
Is there anything else I should do to protect my family from carbon monoxide produced by my generator?
Make sure that there is at least one battery-operated or battery-backup carbon monoxide alarm in your home. Test it before using your generator.
Is it safe for my children to play in the area around the generator?
No. Keep children away from portable generators at all times. Also be sure to store generator fuel out of reach of children.
BECi would also like to remind members that hurricane season is from June 1, 2018 until November 30, 2018 and it is vital to always be prepared in the event of a hurricane. To learn how to get prepared, visit the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness website at www.getagameplan.com.
BECi is the distribution cooperative that serves the electric needs of more than 43,000 residential, commercial and industrial members in a 7-parish area of southwest and central Louisiana.