With more stormy weather likely this winter, Snohomish County Public Utility District reminds customers to take steps to be safe when Mother Nature strikes.
Steer Clear of Downed Power Lines
Approaching downed power lines can be fatal! You don’t even have to touch a downed line to be electrocuted. If you get too close, electricity can find a path into one leg or foot travel up the body and down the other leg and foot and cause serious burns and injury or even death. Stay at least 20 to 30 feet away from any downed line. Call the PUD immediately to report the location of the downed line. If the downed line is life-threatening (for example, on top of an occupied car), call 911. Some people think it’s okay to drive across downed lines, believing that the rubber in the car tires will protect them. While this is true to some extent, the best rule to follow is to avoid driving over downed power lines unless it is a last-resort.
Beware of Carbon Monoxide Emissions
Using a gas stove or charcoal grill inside or your home for heating can have deadly results. During last year’s wind storm, hundreds of people suffered carbon monoxide poisoning when they tried to heat their homes by turning on gas stoves or dragging grills or portable generators inside their homes. Gas, oil, kerosene, charcoal, and wood all emit carbon monoxide – a colorless, odorless gas – that can kill a person in just minutes if inhaled at high levels (such as inside a house with windows shut). Because carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are similar to those for the flu, many people don’t realize they are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning until it’s too late.
Be Safe with Lamps and Flammables
Always use extreme caution if you use candles or oil lamps. Never leave them unattended and keep them away from furniture, drapes, and other flammable materials. In all cases, be sure you have enough ventilation.
Use Portable Generators Safely
Never plug a portable generator into your household wiring unless your home is equipped with a transfer switch that was installed by a licensed electrician. Your generator could be damaged or, much worse, it could back feed electricity through the meter and out into the neighborhood, where it would cause a severe safety hazard to neighbors and line workers. If you need to power an appliance with a generator, plug it directly to the generator. Also, remember to keep enough fuel on hand to power your generator through longer outages.