COLLEGE STATION – Remember those April showers that bring May flowers? Some of that springtime moisture comes in raging storms complete with thunder, lightning and hail, said a Texas Cooperative Extension expert.
These storms can be hazardous for people, places and things, especially when those things’ are electronic or electric, said Janie Harris, Extension housing and environment specialist. That’s why precautions should be taken with computers, television sets, air conditioners, refrigerators and other electrical or electronic appliances.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International lists lightening, power outages and electrical hazards as the causes of many summertime deaths and injuries.
Harris said following these steps from the foundation could help reduce these tragedies:
- Before storm season, install a lightning rod system. If lightning strikes the building, these devices can protect the structure by directing the current into the ground.
- During a storm, stay indoors and away from windows and doors.
- Use only cordless phones during a thunderstorm; use corded phones only for emergencies.
- Unplug electronic equipment including computers and televisions before the storm, and don’t touch electrical equipment, appliances or cords during the storm.
- Stay away from sinks, tubs and faucets.
- Bring pets indoors.
Severe storms can bring down power lines, Harris said, but just because the lines are down doesn’t mean the power is out.
In fact, “downed power lines … can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death,” according to the foundation.
That’s why the foundation offered the following precautions:
- Stay away from downed power lines and anything that touches them. If you are near a downed line, minimize the potential for shock by using small steps to shuffle away. Keep your feet together and on the ground at all times.
- Call 911 immediately if you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with a downed line, but do not touch the person.
- Do not try to move a downed line. Even wood or other non-conductive materials that might be used to move the line can conduct electricity if wet.
- Do not put your feet in water near a downed line.
- Do not drive over a downed line. If your car is in contact with the line, stay inside the vehicle and honk the horn for help.
- If you must leave the car, jump out with both feet together. Don’t touch the car and the ground at the same time in order to avoid being the electric link between the car and the ground. Then shuffle away.
For more information on safety during storms, Harris suggested these Web sites:
- Electrical Safety Foundation International at http://www.electrical-safety.org/ and
- The National Weather Service at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ .
Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences Web site at http://fcs.tamu.edu/ also has information on protecting loved ones during bad weather. Click on the link to “Safety.”