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Playing it Safe in the Storm

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It’s Summer, and that means storms. A summer storm can pop up at any time, and most of the time they are unexpected. Whether they are severe or small, be prepared to battle nature’s summer fury with these safety tips. You might just find a tip that could save your life.

We want to encourage our cooperative members to be cautious and think of safety during summer storms. Beware of flooded areas caused by heavy rains — water and electricity do not mix. Below is safety advice to use following a summer storm:

Flooded Areas — Be careful when attempting to walk in flooded areas and remember that submerged outlets or electrical cords could energize water.

Wet Electrical Equipment — Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances, such as furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers. Electrical parts can pose a shock hazard or overheat and cause a fire.

A qualified service repair technician should recondition electrical equipment that has been wet. Certain equipment will require complete replacement, while a trained professional can recondition other devices.

Portable Generators — Take special care with portable electric generators, which can provide a good source of power, but if improperly installed or operated, can become deadly. Do not connect generators directly to household wiring. Power from generators can back-feed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line workers making repairs. A qualified licensed electrician should install your generator to ensure that it meets local electric codes.

Other tips include:

  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded
  • Keep the generator dry
  • Make sure extension cords used with generators are rated for the load, and are free of cuts, worn insulation, and have three-pronged plugs.
  • Do not overload the generator
  • Do not operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly.
  • Use a ground fault circuit interruptor (“GFCI”) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to installs and are available at prices ranging from $12 to $30.