You’ve filled the fridge, stocked up on batteries, and have Con Ed on speed dial. As far as you’re concerned, you’re over-prepared for the next power outage.
But as ready as you may think you are, you may unknowingly be putting you and your family at risk. So let’s discuss how to avoid making five of the most common and dangerous mistakes during your next power outage.
Keeping Appliances Plugged In
One of the worst mistakes people make during an outage is keeping their appliances plugged in. Not only is this costly, it can also be incredibly dangerous, increasing the chances of a power surge, or spike in your home’s electrical current when power is restored. These dangerous spikes can damage not only the appliances, but your home as well, degrading internal circuitry until it ultimately fails.
So unplug your appliances as soon as the outage hits to cut costs, prevent hazards, and extend their lifespan.
Turning Off All Electric Switches
Although it’s generally a smart move to turn off electric switches in the event of an outage to save money and mitigate risk, you should leave at least one switch on so that you’ll know when power is finally restored.
Otherwise you could unknowingly be sitting around for hours in the dark waiting for power which will never come.
Mixing Water & Electrical Equipment
Power outages are often the result of hurricanes, tornados, or other severe weather conditions. In these instances, you run the risk of flooding, which can mean the end of the line for any affected electric appliances and devices.
While you’re probably well aware of the fact that water and electrical equipment don’t mix, this situation arises a lot more than you may think, and it’s not always obviously dangerous. Even so much as a few drops of water touching electrical wiring can be hazardous.
You should also never attempt to use an appliance in wet conditions, and make sure to replace any water-damaged equipment post-outage so that you don’t run the risk of a safety hazard later on.
Touching Downed Wires
In the same vein, if you happen to be outside during an outage, avoid touching downed wires at all costs. Even if a wire appears to be dead, a dangling power line can still potentially be live and energized which makes it incredibly dangerous.
Your best bet is to keep a healthy distance of about thirty feet from any and all downed wires, and double that distance to sixty feet if the ground is wet.
Leaving Candles Unattended
Once the lights go out, you’ll likely want to find an alternate light source, and candles tend to be a popular go-to. But keep a careful eye on any candles and never leave flames unattended. The last thing you want is to leave a room and return to a fire. If candles are your only option, contain them in a lantern or votive so that the flame isn’t creating a hazard.
For a safer alternative, try battery-powered LED lights and flashlights, which are much less risky. They also tend to be less expensive and will generally have a better lifespan.
While following these simple tips will help make outages safer, they’re not intended to be a panacea. Your best defense against the dangers of outages is a reliable source of back-up power, which means no loss of electricity and its associated risks.
Because the biggest mistake you can make is standing idly by and waiting for the next outage to hit.