How to Prepare Your House for a Hurricane: Electrical Tips

Living in Central Florida, you quickly learn to keep things tied down and closed up during hurricane season. But there are also some simple steps you can take to keep you and your home safe from electrical hazards during a storm.

Essential Electrical Safety Tips During Hurricane Season

There are a few safety tips everyone in a hurricane’s path should be aware of:

• When you know a hurricane is headed your way, charge your phones, unplug appliances, and (if possible) move them to higher ground. You should also turn off breakers to prevent power surges if emergency services recommend it. Finally, take a trip outside and check that your electrical meter riser is securely fastened to your home.

• During the storm, only operate generators outdoors and away from windows. Use a transfer switch to connect a generator to your home’s wiring. And be sure to use GFCI outlets anywhere that water could come into contact with electricity. Ensure you have a place for your portable generator at least 6 feet away from your home, with the exhaust pointed away.

• Once the storm has passed, avoid using any electronics that have been submerged in water. Also, stay away from any downed powerlines or anything that could be in contact with them.

If your home’s electrical wiring or equipment is damaged by water, be sure to get an inspection by a licensed electrician.

Before the storm

• Ensure windows and outer doors are properly sealed to help protect against incoming water. Properly sealed doors also make your home more energy-efficient, thereby saving your money on energy costs.

• Install a sump pump in your basement or crawl space – or make sure yours is working properly and not clogged. You should also consider having a battery backup in case of a power outage.

• Turn off breakers to prevent power surges or add a surge protector to your home’s electrical panel to prevent damage from power surges. Also, use power strips with built-in surge protection to further decrease the risk of damage from an electrical surge.

• Move expensive or important items to higher ground in case of flood waters.

• Check that your electrical meter riser is securely fastened to your home.

• Charge your phones.

• Unplug appliances.

After the Storm

• Avoid using any electronics that have been submerged in water.

• Stay away from any downed powerlines or anything that could be in contact with them.

FAQs

There are three major issues to consider when your home loses power:

• Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. A portable generator should never be run indoors, and while running it should be placed with exhaust facing away from the home. It should also be at least 10 feet away from any wall, window, or soffit so as not to exhaust into the home. This is because generators create carbon monoxide, which can leak into and build up to dangerous levels in enclosed spaces. 

Similarly, do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home, as it could also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Avoid electrical shock from power surges. Disconnect all appliances and electronics that are not in use through a generator.

• Avoid food waste. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. This will help maintain their temperatures longer and avoid food spoilage.

There are two types of generator transfer switches. A manual transfer switch is commonly used for portable generators. An automatic transfer switch is used for a whole home generator.

Both types of switches are designed to connect utility power and allow the generator to safely power your home’s electrical system. They prevent both power sources from cross-feeding or shorting out each other.

Learn more about backup generators

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