You can protect yourself and your family in the event of the hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and lightning storms that kill and injure thousands every year if you’re knowledgeable about electrical safety during and after weather disasters.

«After severe weather is gone, electrical hazards can still cause deaths and injuries,» noted Brett Brenner, The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) president. ESFI warns consumers to beware of electrical dangers associated with downed power lines, portable electric generators and electrical wiring or appliances that have been wet. These precautions can help: • Use care when stepping into flooded areas–whether indoors or out. Submerged outlets, electrical cords, and downed power lines can energize water, posing a lethal trap. • Stay away from downed power lines and anything touching them. • If you see someone who is in contact with a downed power line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911. • Do not drive over downed power lines. • Have electricians install portable electric generators to ensure they meet local electrical codes and are properly grounded. Improperly installed generators can «backfeed» along power lines and electrocute crews working to restore power. • Keep the generator dry. Do not operate it in enclosed or partially enclosed areas. Generators produce deadly carbon monoxide. • Do not overload a generator; follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. • Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions. • Do not use electrical wiring or equipment that has been wet. Contact a qualified service repair dealer to recondition electrical equipment; a licensed electrician can inspect electrical systems. • To avoid lightning strikes, stay indoors and away from windows during storms. • During electrical storms, do not use corded telephones except for emergencies.

• Avoid contact with water and plumbing during electrical storms. • If outdoors during electrical storms, move to a low point. Stay away from metal items. • Don’t forget pets during thunderstorms. Doghouses are not safe from lightning. Chained animals can easily become victims of lightning strikes.