Hurricane Sandy has already come, rocked New York City, and left but the aftereffects of her wrath are an everyday experience for you right now. Cold, flooded out and possibly in the dark, you’re still trying to make sense of everything that happened – and get the lights on while you’re at it. Your survival rests beyond simply getting back into your home and cleaning out damage. You must ensure home electrical safety. Power outages and floods from Hurricane Sandy can cause electrical hazards which, left unchecked, can cause severe injury or death.
Unchecked electrical hazards can electrocute you, electrocute the local Con Edison or other utility workers, or set your home on fire. Even if everything looks dried up and ready to use, the risk of house fire or other electrical hazards still pose a threat. While the best electrical hazard prevention occurs prior to the arrival of a hurricane, there are still things you can do now to maximize and improve your chances of getting your home back in order.
Electrical safety after a hurricane starts with being aware of your surroundings. You can never be too cautious at a time like this. Watch for loose, dangling power lines around your neighborhood. Avoid touching them and report them to your local authorities as soon as possible.
Upon coming towards your home, you’ll have to turn off your main power circuits. Only do this if you can safely get to your main circuit. Wear rubber gloves and rubber boots to do this, especially if your home was/is flooded. Hire an electrician to check your lights and appliances for short circuits and other hazards. Turning off the main power circuit removes most of the electrical hazard from your home.
Once your main circuit is turned off, the next step is determining if water has made contact with your electrical wiring. Soaked wiring is trouble, especially if the water is salty. Contrary to general belief, water doesn’t conduct electricity on its own; it requires salt. If water has even the slightest amount of salt in it, there’s enough in it to electrocute you! Rainwater along the coastline contains salt, and hurricane rains can have even more salt content due to water spouts sucking sea water into the air. Even “dry,” salt water residue draws moisture from the air and can conduct electricity, and so must be handled before power is safely restored to your home.
Therefore, be very careful when it comes to handling electrical wiring. You’ll need to have your electricity and wiring inspected by an electrician. If your wiring saltwater soaked, then washing it down with a hose is the first step to remediation. Hose down your wiring, and feel free to hose down your home’s surfaces that are soaked with saltwater also. (Saltwater erodes surfaces.) After the area dries, carefully unplug everything and contact a licensed electrician.
Setting up a power generator can be dangerous if it’s not done properly. An electrician can guarantee safe power installation and make recommendations on what you need to do as you work to get your life and bearings back together. Once basic power is restored, then you can safely begin sorting out your home and getting everything back in order. Once your home electrical safety is managed after the hurricane, don’t forget to check on your neighbors and make sure everything is okay with them.