Knowing what to do with electrical appliances and equipment in the event of severe weather - whether that be a firestorm, cyclone, flood or heavy storm - is essential to ensure you are prepared for any emergency.
Hazards at home
Excess water, lightning and severe heat can all make electrical devices unsafe to use so follow these steps for your own safety:
- Before a storm or cyclone hits, unplug all electrical appliances and don’t touch them until it has safely passed.
- If electrical circuits or equipment get wet, turn off the power at the fuse box but never walk through water to access it - wait for an electrician. You should also wait for an electrician to inspect electrical appliances before turning the power back on. Everything must be completely dry.
Power line hazards
In the event of a severe weather event you should keep away from power lines. However, if your car is hit by a falling power line, you should follow this advice:
- Stay inside your vehicle and call the local electricity company and the emergency services or ask someone to do it for you but warn people not to touch the car or the fallen line.
- If your vehicle catches fire, this is the exception to the rule, the only time when you should leave your car if it is hit by a power line. However, don’t simply step out as you may be electrocuted. Instead, jump as far as you can from your car so that your entire body is away from it before any part of you touches the ground. Once you’ve landed, move at least 15 metres with both feet constantly in contact with the ground. Encourage anyone else in the car to do the same - you cannot help them while you are standing on the ground outside the car.
Electrical shock first aid
In the event that someone is electrocuted, take the following steps:
- Don’t touch them unless you are sure that they are no longer in contact with the electrical source. Always observe first and then act to avoid the electric current being passed through you.
- Call the emergency services for urgent medical help. Even if there are no outward burns, they may have internal burns.
- Turn off the electrical source or, if that is not possible, move the object away from you and the person affected using something made from nonconductive material such as plastic, wood or cardboard.
- Once you are sure they are away from the source of the electricity, check their breathing and pulse and begin CPR if necessary.
- They are likely to show signs of shock - look for signs such as feeling faint or a pale pallor - in which case lie them down with their legs elevated and their head slightly lower than the trunk of their body.
- Don’t touch blisters or burns or attempt to remove clothing - wait for the emergency services.