With the warm summer weather comes an increase thunderstorm risk. When the rain falls and the lightning strikes, your power can go out — and go out quickly. Knowing what to do, and what not to do, in the event of a storm-related power outage is absolutely essential for any homeowner.
The right knowledge can save yourself, time, money, and headaches. With that in mind, what do you need to know about your home’s electrical system, summer weather, and unexpected outages? Before the next storm strikes, take a look at the simple ways you can reduce risks and help to keep yourself and your family safe.
Don’t assume that an electrical storm has caused a region or neighborhood-wide outage. Even though lightning is striking nearby, that doesn’t mean your loss of electricity is the utility company’s fault. It’s possible that a fuse has blown or an overloaded circuit has tripped the breaker.
Take a look outside. Do you see lights in your neighbor’s homes? If you’re not sure, call and ask. If you don’t know your neighbors’ phone numbers, either wait until the storm has subsided before venturing out to ask in person or call the electric company.
You can also check your utility company’s website (from your phone, as long as it still has battery power and service) for current outage alerts. The utility company may also be able to give you an estimated time when service will resume.
Chances are you’ve got plenty of devices and appliances plugged into your electrical system. From the microwave to the TV and everything in between, anything that runs on electricity obviously won’t work during an outage. While it’s tempting to forget about these plugged-in devices and appliances, leaving them as is can have serious consequences later on.
Always unplug everything you can during a power outage. You don’t know when the electricity will suddenly snap back on. And when it does, a surge can ruin your electronics. After the power returns, wait a few minutes and gradually plug your devices and appliances back in, starting with the ones you need most.
A downed line is a scary proposition for most homeowners. A power line that’s fallen into pooling water or is in some other way submerged poses a serious safety hazard. If a power line has fallen onto your property, never go near it. Keep in mind, the immediate area around the power line isn’t the only place that can be energized.
Power lines that are touching objects, such as trees or sheds, can energize whatever they’re on or under. They can also energize standing water as well. Steering clear of the extended area is your best bet. Never attempt to move the line or repair it yourself. Only qualified emergency personnel and a professional electrician should repair the electrical line.
While keeping your food cold may not seem like a safety hazard (at least, not on the level of downed power lines), it can end up putting your health at risk. Opening a refrigerator during an outage releases the sealed-in cooled air. This leaves your perishables warm and ready to start growing illness-causing microorganisms.
If the fridge’s temperature goes above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, discard (and don’t eat) meat, meat products, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, milk, milk products, and tofu. If you have any doubt about the safety of your refrigerated, or frozen, foods, throw them out. Don’t assume that you can smell or see the difference between food that’s safe and food that’s not.
When the power comes back on, the refrigerator should kick on. If it doesn’t, you may have a blown fuse or a breaker that you need to reset.
Do you have electrical damage after a storm? Contact In Phaze Electric Inc. for more information.