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Outage Safety

Photo by Jim Parkes of Emlenton

Power outages can cause a variety of safety concerns for a variety of people. The following tips will help keep you and your family safe. 

Click here to view the Electrical Safety Foundation International's (ESFi's) Electrical Safety Precautions During Disasters' brochure. 



Downed Power Line Safety:

  • If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything touching it.

  • The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage one—and it could do that through your body.

  • If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 instead.

  • Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even normally non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and electrocute you.

  • Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.

  • Do not drive over downed lines.

  • If you are in a vehicle that is in contact with a downed line, stay in the vehicle. Honk your horn for help and tell others to stay away from your vehicle.

  • If you must leave your vehicle because it’s on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid making contact with the energized vehicle and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the vehicle to the earth. 



Lightning Safety:

  • Plan ahead. Just as you have an emergency plan for fires and weather events like tornadoes, form an action plan for lightning. Choose a safe shelter, and time how long it takes to get there.

  • Check the weather. A simple forecast can tell you whether you should delay outdoor activities to avoid a dangerous situation.

  • Look to the sky. Dark skies, whipping winds, and lightning flashes are all signs that you should seek shelter.

  • Seek shelter. As soon as you hear a rumble of thunder, head for a safe place—an enclosed structure, one with plumbing and wiring is best, or a car. Open-air shelters, sheds, and covered porches are often not safe places. Avoid tall trees that stand alone, towers, and poles, as well as metal fences and other conductors of electricity. And keep out of open areas, so that you’re not the tallest object in a field.

  • Wait it out. Leaving safe shelter too quickly makes you vulnerable to lightning strikes. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before you head back outdoors.

  • Avoid corded phones and appliances. If you’re indoors when a storm hits, do not use corded phones or appliances. Lightning can travel through your home’s wiring. Also, water is a great conductor of electricity, so don’t take a bath or shower.

  • If someone near you has been struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. A certified person should begin CPR right away if necessary—the victim will not have an electric charge and is safe to touch.

  • For more information on how to stay safe in a lightning storm, visit



Thunderstorm & Tornado Safety:

  • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged tree limbs.

  • Listen to local news or National Weather Service broadcasts to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.

  • If in a mobile home, immediately head to a sturdy shelter or vehicle. Mobile homes, especially hallways and bathrooms, are not safe places to take shelter during tornadoes or other severe winds.

  • Designate a family meeting place for shelter during and after a storm. If possible, go to your home’s basement, a small interior room, or under stairs on the lowest level. Also, have a battery-operated weather radio handy along with emergency supplies.

  • Unplug your electronics. Avoid using electrical equipment and corded telephones.

  • Remember that there is no safe place outside during a severe storm. If you are caught in a storm while on the road, the American Red Cross urges drivers to turn their headlights on, try to safely exit the roadway, and park. Stay in the vehicle with your seat belt on and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. If thunder and lightning is occurring, avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.  

  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.

  • Stay safe after a storm. Remain indoors at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder. Also, stay away from downed power lines and avoid flooded areas, power lines could be submerged and still live with electricity.

  • Learn more about storm safety at​ 



Generator Safety:

Generators are a great source of back-up power when the electricity goes out but can be dangerous if not used properly. Follow the provided tips and keep your family safe during an outage:

  • Keep your generator outside and away from doors, windows and vents.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Turn off your generator and let cool down before refueling.

  • Install a GenerLink transfer switch on your meter socket to protect your linemen from backfeeding. Click here for more information.

  • Click here to view the ESFi's Portable Generator Safety Brochure. 



Keeping Food Safe During an Outage:

The electricity just went out and your refrigerator is packed with food.  The following tips are provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will help ensure your food is safe during and after a power outage.  You should:

  • Never taste the food to determine its safety.

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed to maintain a cold temperature ( a full refrigerator will keep food cold for four hours and a full freezer will hold a safe temperature for 48 hours).

  • Obtain dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer cold if power is expected to be out for a long time.

  • Check the temperature of your freezer with an appliance thermometer if the power has been out for a few days (food should be at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below).

  • Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after four hours without power.



To read more safety tips from CEC click here

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