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Storm safety tips

As the storms roll in, so does the risk of lightning, downed power lines, flooding and other electrical hazards.  Follow these tips to protect yourself (and share with your neighbors too!):

  • Downed power lines.  
    • The human body is a natural conductor of electricity, so downed power lines  present a major risk for electrocution. If you see a downed power line, move at least 10 feet away and NEVER touch it.  If you are near a power line, shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together. That will minimize the chance of getting shocked.
    • Report  emergencies to ComEd as soon as possible at 1-800-Edison-1.
    • If you see someone who has come into contact with a downed power line, call 911.  Do not attempt to help them yourself.
    • It may be tempting to try to move a downed power line with another object, like a broom.  But even non-conductive materials like wood, when slightly wet, can conduct electricity.
    • Water is a good conductor of electricity, so be especially careful to avoid water near downed power lines.
    • Refrain from removing tree debris as downed power lines may be entangled in them.
    • If a power line falls across a car that you’re in, stay in the car. If you absolutely must get out of the car due to a fire or emergency, try to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground—you don’t want your body to be a conductor of electricity from the car to the ground.
  •  Flooding
    • Be extremely careful when stepping into flooded areas or basements.  Electrical cords and outlets can energize water, posing a serious electrocution risk.
    • Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet until they have been examined by a qualified service repair dealer.
    • Do not enter a flooded area until it has been determined safe to do so by a professional.
    • Follow any directions from your utility to turn off power— but never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. Ameren customers can call 1-800-755-5000 to have the power turned off when flood waters are likely to reach the main electrical panel box.
    • If your home has flooded, keep the power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
  • Power outages 
    • During severe weather or power outages, turn off as many appliances and electronics as possible to reduce the risk of damage or fire. After power is restored, wait 5 to 10 minutes before turning them back on.
    • Do not touch a circuit breaker or replace a fuse with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface.
    • Report the outage immediately. Don’t assume neighbors will take care of the issue. Be proactive and alert the utility to the situation—besides, more voices can only help, not hurt, in getting the utility out faster. For ComEd, call 1-800-334-7661, and for Ameren, call 1-800-755-5000.
    • Keep an eye on the refrigerator. If the outage is less than four hours long, the food in a refrigerator or freezer should be fine. However, if the outage lasts more than four hours, beware that dairy and meat items are most likely spoiled.
  • Check on your neighbors.  Elderly and disabled neighbors may need your help, so make sure to check in!

Tips are from ComEd, Ameren IllinoisElectrical Safety Foundation InternationalRutherford Electric Membership Corporation, NYSEG, and Duke Energy.

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