Safety and What You Need to Know During An Outage and After a Storm
Water Damage To Electrical
If you think your home may have water damage — from roof leaks or flood waters that have receded — follow these important safety tips:
- Watch for downed wires when you approach your home. Consider all lines energized and call Coastal Electric, 800-421-2343, if you see a live “sparking” power line.
Once inside, disconnect all electrical appliances that are still plugged in. Use caution. Do not stand in water when operating switches, plugging in or unplugging electrical cords.
- When resetting circuit breakers, wear dry, rubber soled shoes and stand on something dry and non-conductive, such as a dry piece of wood or wooden furniture.
- Use only one hand, and reset the breaker switches with a dry wooden tool. Do not make contact with the metal breaker box or other grounded objects in the area. If the breakers will not reset or they continue to trip, call a licensed electrician. This condition might indicate a short-circuit in your electrical system.
- If you had no problem resetting the circuit breakers, you will still want to check your appliances for water damage and make sure all cords are dry before you attempt to re-plug electrical appliances into wall sockets.
- If, after plugging in an appliance, the breakers trip (or fuse blows) or you see smoke or smell a burning odor, shut off power at the circuit breaker and have the appliance checked by a qualified appliance serviceman.
Be careful around all electrical wires and equipment. If you have any doubts about your home electrical system or are unsure of how to proceed, call a professional, licensed electrician.
If you have a portable generator, it should be isolated from our lines, or be equipped with a properly installed double-throw switch installed by a licensed electrician.
Generators that are not isolated or installed properly can feed back into our lines and possibly electrocute anyone coming in contact with those wires, including you, children, neighbors, our line personnel, or pets.
If you plan to use a portable generator, here are some important safety precautions:
- Locate your generator in a well-ventilated area. Never run it inside, even in your garage. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide and the fumes can be deadly.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator using heavy duty, properly grounded extension cords. Make sure that extension cords are not frayed or worn. Do not connect your power generator directly to your home’s main fuse box or circuit panel. Limit the number of appliances you use to no more than the recommended wattage of the generator.
- Read all instructions carefully and follow the manufacturers recommendations. Use the generator only when necessary, and don’t overload it. Turn it off at night while you sleep and when you are away from home, to avoid possible fire hazard.
- For your safety, your neighbors’ safety, and the safety of Coastal Electric employees do not attempt to connect your generator to your home wiring.
- If you have any doubts about how to properly use a portable electric generator, contact the manufacturer or a licensed electrician for assistance.
There’s something you can do to determine if your home is ready to receive power when crews arrive or if you need to call an electrician for repairs ahead of time:
- If your home is served by overhead power lines, look at the metal pipe above your electric meter where the power line is or would connect to your house. This is called the weatherhead and it is part of your home wiring system. If you see any damage to the weatherhead, to the pipe that carries the wire down to the meter, or to the meter can that surrounds the meter, you may need to call a licensed electrician.
- If your home is served by underground lines, look at the metal meter box and the conduit that extends down into the ground. Again, if you see any damage, you may need to call a licensed electrician.
- If there is damage to the Coastal Electric meter itself, utility crews will repair or replace it. Make your visual inspection carefully. Do not touch any electrical equipment or lines around the electrical equipment. If the weatherhead appears bent or loose, the electrician will make a closer inspection and repairs, since Coastal Electric crews are not permitted to work on home wiring systems. Please be careful around all electrical wires and equipment.
You may be living in a tent or RV in order to stay by your homesite. You may need power to run electrical equipment to help rebuild.
If the power in your neighborhood has been restored but your home is too damaged to receive it, we can help by connecting power to a temporary pole right next to your house. Here’s how it works:
- Before Coastal Electric can connect power, you need to hire a licensed electrical contractor to install the temporary service pole. You will need a meter base which Coastal Electric will provide at no cost.
- When you call an electrician make sure they are licensed by the state.
- Beware of contractors who come to an area after a natural disaster. If in doubt contact your Better Business Bureau or your City/County Business License Department. Most reputable contractors will register with these agencies if they have come to truly assist the area.
- Although you will pay the electrician for providing and installing the temporary service pole and switch box, Coastal Electric does not charge for connection to this pole or for reconnection back to your home when it’s ready.
Sometimes your neighbors have power, and you don’t. There are several reasons this might happen:
- You may be on a different feeder line than nearby neighbors.
- The line to your home may have greater damage.
- Or you may need to repair your home before you can be connected.
Here’s what to do:
- If the power line connection to your home, the meter box, or the piping carrying wire to the meter is damaged, Coastal Electric is not permitted to repair it or hook it up. You may need to call a licensed electrical contractor — ask to see a state license and Certificate of Competency (CC) number. We will repair damage to the actual meter.
- If inspectors have determined that your home is unsafe, Coastal Electric is not permitted to connect power to it. You should first call the appropriate licensed contractor to make repairs and pass inspection.
- If the connection between you home and the overhead or underground source of power is damaged, we will continue to work diligently to repair the problem.
In order to speed the restoration process, Coastal Electric has established an “assembly line” process. Crews follow each other through a neighborhood, each with a specific job. The first crews restore power to the neighborhood. “Clean up” crews follow behind, reconnecting individuals’ homes that we identified in our initial survey of your neighborhood.
Although your house may look safe, it may not be safe to receive power. Here are a few simple steps to help avoid injury to yourself and your family, or further damage to your home.
- If your roof or windows have leaked, there may be water in your walls and ceiling in contact with electrical wiring. You may need a licensed electrical contractor to survey your house. In the meantime, turn off your circuit breakers, remove fuses, unplug appliances and turn off all wall switches.
- If you’re served by overhead power lines and you see damage from the house connection to the power line, the piping that carries wires to the meter, or the box surrounding the meter, you may need to call an electrical contractor. Coastal Electric is not permitted to repair this type of damage. If the meter is damaged, we will take care of it. If you are served by underground power lines, simply look at the meter box. If it is damaged, you may need to call a contractor.
- Do not make a close inspection of your wiring or other electrical equipment. Let an electrical contractor perform this job.
- If you do call a contractor, make sure they are licensed by the state.