We use electrical equipment so much in modern life that we can often forget how extraordinary it is. We think nothing of flipping on a switch when we need light or powering up our televisions whenever we get bored. In fact, the use of electricity is so built into our lives that, when the power goes out, we often find ourselves still hitting the light switch or clicking the TV remote, and being a little surprised when nothing happens. We can barely clean, cook, wash, or work without reliable electricity powering up our homes and businesses.
That being said, when a natural disaster hits and it impacts the power grid, we suddenly get a big wake-up call about the importance of electricity. But another thing we should wake up to is electrical safety.
Steps to Take in a Natural Disaster
One of the first emergency response measures taken by areas hit by a natural disaster is shutting down power, and this is a critical safety step in many situations.
For example, in earthquakes, not only will the earthquake itself often cause power loss by disrupting a power line, but a standard response is for the power company to shut down the grid. This is because earthquakes often cause ruptures in gas pipes, fuel lines, and power cables, and can send power poles crashing down. With the release of natural gas or fuel, even just a spark from an electrical source can result in explosions and fires.
Windstorms, floods, fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes can also create different types of electrical safety hazards. Because water conducts electricity, a flood in your basement can present a real danger of electrocution if the water has come in contact with outlets, power cords, or appliances.
Wind from storms, hurricanes, or tornadoes regularly knock down power lines every year. When a power line is downed in a storm, the live line can create a serious risk of both electrocution and fire. If an energized line sits in a puddle or even just on wet ground, the ground can be energized from the water. Because of this, you should never approach a downed power line, or try to help someone who is within 35 feet of a downed line. You should not even drive through puddles or otherwise try to drive around where power lines have been downed.
Preparation is the Key
Whenever any natural disaster hits, you should assume that you will lose power, whether from the disaster itself or from intentional outages. The key to getting through a disaster well is thinking ahead about what you will need to stay safe until power is restored, and preparing for that eventuality.
Basic things like heat, food, and light are necessities, and the ability to communicate is also critical. So if a storm is a forecast, take some simple steps, such as charging your cell phones, and making sure you have a supply of flashlights, batteries, utility candles, and matches or lighters. You should also keep a battery-powered radio on hand to obtain news alerts. If you live in a cold climate, have extra blankets on hand and, if you have a fireplace, make sure there is wood ready for it. Ready-to-eat food on hand is also helpful – things like nuts, bottled water, and energy bars. Have a cooler on hand and use it to prevent food spoilage, although those who live in cold climates may be able to rely on the weather to keep food fresh.
Having a generator on hand is also useful, and before the storm season hits, test and maintain it, and make sure you have fuel for it. Before using or installing a generator, however, it is important to have a licensed electrician create a dedicated circuit for it, and show you how to properly switch power over to it. It is also important to know how much power it generates, and only run those electrical items that you actually need. You do not know how long your power will be out, so you do not want to waste your generator’s fuel.
When the power does go out, unplug your appliances, particularly those that were running when the power went out. If you have a laptop computer that switches over to battery power, shut it down. You should also turn off your main power breaker. These steps are to protect your appliances and devices from damage as a result of a power surge when power is restored or if the outage is intermittent. If the danger of flood is present, put your electronic devices in high places: on tables or upstairs, to avoid water damage. You may want to do this with other cherished items, as well.
These safety measures are critical not just for you, but for others, as well. Whenever there is a natural disaster, there are usually more people who need help than people and resources available to render help. If you are able to take care of yourself, it means that others who desperately need help have a better chance of getting it. Good preparation means that you may not only save your own or your family’s lives but, ultimately, the lives of others.
Safety is Always a Priority
At Safeguard Equipment, our entire business is designed around keeping people safe. We started out by manufacturing personal voltage and currency detectors (PVCD) that help utility line workers, firefighters, telecommunications technicians, electricians, and others to detect and steer clear of electrical dangers. But our newest release, the COMPASS ProTM Emergency Response System, takes the whole idea of PVCDs to a new level.
The device component of the COMPASS Pro detects not only electrical dangers, but can now detect injury events, including arc flashes, falls, and head impacts. It is linked to the Safeguard Equipment smartphone app that sends an alert to a designated response team whenever an electrical, fall or other injury event is detected. In addition, it provides users with immediate connectivity for any emergency at the touch of a button. With the COMPASS Pro, emergency response is at your fingertips, meaning that delayed medical response for injured workers in the field can be a thing of the past.
For more information or a demonstration of the COMPASS Pro system, contact Safeguard Equipment today.