The skies have cleared up over the eastern part of the US and much of the flooding has subsided from areas following Hurricane Sandy. So, it’s ok to return home and begin the cleanup and get our lives back to normal, right?
Not so fast. According to NFPA experts on the National Electric Code® and Life Safety Code®, which are accepted into law by jurisdictions nationwide, many dangers still exist after such a storm despite not being obvious.
Here are a few tips to keep yourself and your family safe as you return to your homes.
- Avoid using candles – Despite being readily available, avoid or minimize the temptation to use candles throughout the home when being without electricity to avoid risk of fire. Unattended candles are a source of many home-related fires. Use flashlights or battery-operated candles instead.
- Beware of downed power lines – Just because they aren’t sparking doesn’t mean there isn’t electricity there. Treat all downed wires as if they were live and alert the authorities.
- Run generators outside – In the event that electricity may not be available to your home yet, generators are a viable option to power some of your small appliances. However, they also pose a fire hazard and risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Always run your generators in a well-ventilated location outside, away from your home, doors, vent opening and windows. And even if you keep your garage door open, it is not safe to run the generator inside the garage.
- Unplug all appliances before power is restored – Chances are, you didn’t turn off appliances in your home when the electricity went out and flood waters forced an evacuation. When electricity is restored, these appliances will want to run again and the demand for power will trip circuit breakers right away. If your home still has flood water, you will also risk the danger of electrocution. Unplug all appliances before restoring power and plug only necessary items in one at a time. If you have any doubts regarding safety, call a professional electrician.
- Avoid using outlets if they were submerged – Even if the water subsides and your home is dry, avoid using any outlets and switches that were submerged in water. Due to the contaminants in flood water during a storm, these items could be corroded and unsafe for use. If the electrical panel was submerged avoid turning electricity on in the home. Call a professional electrician to inspect your home.
- Use caution with temporary heating units – Make sure your heating equipment is allowed in your community and appropriate for your particular environment. When using kerosene or propane heaters ensure there is plenty of ventilation and always refuel outside the home. Keep heaters at least 3 feet from anything that can burn.
- Do not use a kitchen stove for heating – This is dangerous and could produce a fire hazard and carbon monoxide hazard. If your home lacks heat during these cold days, it is best to vacate the building and stay elsewhere.
- Listen to authorities – They have the latest information on safety conditions in the affected area and are privy to information well before the public does.
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