Storms, floods, and other severe weather conditions don't only disrupt daily routines, they can pose risks and dangers if you're not prepared. A major danger during severe-weather events is electrical hazards. A major storm, for example, can damage buildings, trees, power lines, and, in turn, your electrical wiring. Use these tips to prepare and avoid risks in during severe weather events.
Thorough preparation before a storm can minimise risks and dangers during and after severe weather.
- Loose items - Secure or pack away loose items that could be carried away by strong winds and damage property and powerlines. Secure outdoor furniture, lock away your gardening tools, and clear away debris in your yard.
- Trim trees - Cut off any thin branches that could break during severe weather conditions. If the branches are near a powerline, have a professional do it.
- Powerlines - Check out the power lines near your house. If they aren’t well clear of trees and other structures, you might want to contact your utility company to have them checked out. You might need to have a qualified arborist clear away overreaching branches to reduce the risk of branches damaging power lines.
- Prepare supplies - Put together a box of essentials for use during the storm or flood. For example, you'll want to have on hand a torch with spare batteries, a radio, bottled water, food and refreshments, and blankets.
- Weatherproof your home - Clear away gutters, have leaks fixed, and check your roof for loose tiles.
- Locate turn-off switches - Make sure you know how to turn off electricity, gas, and water during an emergency.
- Electrical equipment - Pack away any unused electrical equipment and keep it in a safe place. Switch and unplug all electrical equipment before the event strikes.
- Solar panels - If you have solar power, switch it off using the recommended safe isolation procedure. After the event, stay away from the system until you have it checked by a professional.
- Surge protectors - Have a surge protector installed on your electricity switchboard. This can protect your appliances and other electrical items in the event of a power surge.
During the event
Stay indoors during the severe weather event, and keep warm and dry.
- Radio - Keep the radio on during the event so you can stay up to date with what's happening in your area.
- Avoid landlines - Avoid using your landline phone during a storm as it can lead to an electric shock. However, if your wired phone is on a fibre-optic network (rather than traditional landline), it's probably safe. Additionally, it's likely safe to use your mobile unless you're outside.
- Move - If flood waters reach your property, make sure you move all electrical equipment to higher levels.
- Car - If you're on the road, stay away from watercourses, powerlines, and trees, and stay in your car.
- Fallen power lines - Stay away from fallen power lines and report them to your local electricity distributor. Look out for concealed power lines, such as those under fallen trees.
After the event
Staying safe should be your top priority after a severe weather event, so carefully assess the damage and take it slowly when cleaning up.
- Stay connected - Keep the radio on so you can stay up to date with any further warnings.
- Power lines - Avoid all power lines and assume they're live. Report any damaged power lines.
- Electrical items - Don't touch any electrical signs, street lights, cables, or conducive materials unless you've made sure it's completely safe. If your switchboard is damaged, don't touch it. Throw away water-damaged electrical equipment and appliances, or have them assessed by an electrician to ensure they’re safe to use.
- Generator - If you have a generator, have your electrician check it and make sure the wiring is in working condition before you turn it on.
- Water - If you have a flooded lower level, don't come in contact with the water unless you know it's safe. Avoid any bodies of water outside. Water conducts electricity and touching it could give you an electric shock.
- Repairs - Never do your own electrical repairs. Have a licensed electrician perform the repairs. They can also help with testing and verifying your switchboard, equipment, and appliances.
Get prepared now
Severe weather events can be disruptive and dangerous, so preparation and taking care are vital. Plan ahead to reduce the risk of electrical shock, and stay aware of potential electrical dangers during and after the event. By staying alert and connected, you can give you and your family the best chance of avoiding dangerous electrical accidents.