Unfortunately, we cannot avoid most disasters. That goes double for natural disasters. The best we can hope for is plenty of notice that a disaster is coming so we can make the necessary preparations for it.
One of the main hazards associated with disasters hitting commercial structures is the electric supply to the building. Electricity is a lethal weapon that can kill or seriously harm someone in a fraction of a second without warning, so electrical safety is high on the list of priorities when preparing for and dealing with a disaster.
When looking at the electrical safety for your commercial building, there are several things you can do to prepare for a disaster and minimize the damage. There are also things you should do during a disaster, and some important electrical safety tips to be aware of after one strikes.
Preparing For a Disaster
If you’re expecting a natural disaster, such as a storm, flooding, earthquake, etc. that can potentially cause some damage to your building and electrical appliances, you should:
- Charge all electrical equipment and disconnect from the main power
- Ensure there is no live power to outlets at risk of being hit by flooding
- Raise or move all electrical items that may get wet by storms or flooding
- Switch off the main power supply to your building
Other precautions include covering electronics with plastic tarps, having extra supplies available, and preparing battery-operated tools in case power cuts out.
Electrical Safety Tips During a Disaster
You should have procedures in place so everyone in the building knows what to do during a disaster. If you didn’t have time to switch off the power to the building and individual appliances and electrical items, you should do this during a disaster only if it’s safe to do so.
If you’re dealing with flooding in your building while you’re still in there, be aware that electrical outlets submerged in the water can energize the water and cause an electric shock to anyone encountering the water. This can prove fatal.
Electrical items still running and in contact with flood water can also generate an electric shock, or malfunction and cause a fire. Therefore, make sure to switch everything off before a wet disaster hits. Even “dry” disasters can cause fires and other dangerous byproducts. If it’s too late you may need to distance yourself from them as the safest option.
Never, ever attempt to plug an electrical appliance into the mains and use it during a storm. You must not leave any appliances running either, especially if you anticipate evacuating your building.
Electrical Safety Tips After a Disaster
If any of your electrical equipment has water damage, it’s important that you do not connect it to the mains before it’s fully dry and receives evaluation by a qualified electrician. Some equipment will be serviceable while using other items can be too risky.
The power lines supplying your building and the local area must also undergo evaluation by a professional. He or she must clear the area as safe before you can start using the power again.
If you experienced a loss of power, it’s worth considering upgrading to an alternative power source in the future. This can reduce the likelihood of a total blackout on electricity if your building experiences another major disaster.
There are some options around decentralized generators. These are basically alternative power sources that allow you to break off from the main grid and operate from a local power source. During a storm, this will allow you to keep some essential appliances running.
It might even be time to consider renewable energy such as solar power. ESFi have some good guidelines for a disaster recovery process and highlight some alternative power sources to consider.
It’s important to look at the areas of your building that were hit the hardest by the disaster. Consider moving any electrical outlets and equipment from those areas if possible.
If you can’t physically move the appliances or equipment, maybe you can fortify the immediate area to protect against flooding. The key is to identify where you can improve on your electrical safety.
Safety Tips You Can Trust
Is a large storm heading your way? Are you worried about the possible damage that can happen to your home, appliances or electrical system? Suncoast 24/7 Emergency Service can get your home ready for an impending disaster and put your mind at ease. We supply sound tips and excellent service. If you are unsure of how to prepare for extreme weather or natural disaster, call us at 561-408-6466 today. Operating out of Palm Beach and Broward Counties, we want to help protect the citizens of South Florida from the sometimes-harsh realities of our region.