Before the storm.

1. Charge all phone and communications devices.

2. Move computers and other electronic devices to countertops or tables to avoid water damage from flooding.

Before the storm.

3. Turn off circuit breakers to avoid power surges.

4. If you plan to use a portable generator during the storm, ensure that a qualified electrician has installed it and make sure to use a listed and approved transfer switch and GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection.

During the storm.

5. Stay indoors during hurricanes and away from windows and glass.

6. Never operate a portable generator inside your home or garage.

During the storm.

7. Do not connect generators directly to the household wiring unless an appropriate transfer switch has been installed by a licensed, qualified electrician.

8. Always use GFCIs in areas where water and electricity may come in contact. The National Electrical Code (NEC) currently requires that GFCIs be installed in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, outdoors, and within six feet of any sink.

After the storm.

9. Have a qualified electrician inspect any water-damaged electrical equipment and electronics. Electrical items, such as circuit breakers, fuses, GFCIs, receptacles, plugs and switches, can malfunction when water and silt get inside. Discard them if they have been submerged.

10. If flooding has occurred, have a qualified electrician inspect your electrical system.


After the storm.

11. Do not touch a circuit breaker or replace a fuse with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface.

12.Report and stay away from downed power lines and always assume they are energized. Never touch a person or object that is in direct or indirect contact with a downed power line, such as a fence, tree limb or water. Instead, call 911 immediately.

After the storm.

13. Avoid flooded areas as they may be electrified. Even nonconductive materials like wood or cloth that are slightly wet can conduct electricity.

14. If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches or engage in any activity that could create a spark.

May is National Electrical Safety Month, and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is working to the public that natural disasters and severe weather can spur serious  electrical risks that can cause physical injuries, fatalities and property loss.

ESFI sponsors this annual campaign to increase public awareness of common electrical hazards. To highlight the risks and identify ways to plan for severe weather events, ESFI’s campaign theme this year is “Electrical Safety During Disasters.”

“As families begin to clean up following a storm or flood, we want them to be mindful of the potential dangers that exist whenever water comes into contact with electricity,” ESFI president Brett Brenner said in a statement. “Before flipping a switch or plugging in an appliance, have a qualified electrician check the house wiring and appliances to make sure they are safe to use.”

The slideshow above spotlights ESFI’s electrical safety tips and offers guidance regarding what to do before, during and after a storm.

Related: 6 preparedness tips for severe weather events