Following a hurricane, electrical equipment, downed power lines and household wiring can all pose potential hazards if not dealt with properly. Here’s how to safely contend with such issue.
- If your electrical equipment is wet or near water, switch off the main breaker. If you must enter the water to reach the main switch, call an electrician to turn it off.
- Do not turn electrical equipment back on until it has been professionally inspected.
- Stay clear of downed power lines—they may still be energized and dangerous. Beware of water contacting downed lines.
- Do not trim trees or remove the debris near downed power lines.
- If you must remove debris that’s in, or near, your home, do not pile it under, or near, electrical lines or equipment.
- If appliances were on when power was lost, make sure all appliances are turned off. If left on, they could pose fire hazards.
- Refrain from using candles. Use a flashlight instead.
- If you spot a downed power line, report it to the utility company. Otherwise, keep utility telephone lines clear for emergency calls.
How is power restored after a storm?
- Now the storm has passed, your electric provider is assessing the damage to the electric system.
- Your electric provider first restores power to essential services such as hospitals, traffic signals, shelters, communication centers and law enforcement.
- Next, power is restored to the greatest number of customers in the shortest time.
- Finally, individual services are restored, or those that need reconnection after repairs to damaged electrical systems.
What If My Neighbor Has Power But I Don’t?
First, check all circuit breakers by resetting them. If your breakers aren’t the problem, then:
- You may be on another power feeder line or power transformer.
- The transformer for your location may be damaged. These are the last system devices to be repaired while resources are focused on restoring the greatest number of customers first.
- Your weather head conduit (the pipe and wire extending above your roof) is damaged or bent. An electrician must repair it and it must be inspected before restoring power.
- You own your own underground service and it may be damaged. If so, you must have it repaired by an electrician and inspected before power can be restored.
- If none of this is the case, and your neighbor’s power is on while yours is still out, call your utility.
- Never open an electronic appliance to dry it inside.
- Unplug items and let them dry thoroughly. Don’t assume that because the outside is dry, the inside has dried. Continue drying for a few more days.
- Place the equipment in the sun but monitor it closely. Bright sunlight can damage LCD displays.
- If you see smoke or hear crackling sounds, unplug it immediately.
- If the power indicator lights come on, leave the equipment on for about 10 minutes, then turn it off for about 30 minutes. Repeat, leaving the appliance on for an extra five minutes each try.