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Electrical safety during storms

There are things you can do before, during and after a flood or storm to be electrically safe.

Prepare your property for storms and floods

Before a storm or wet season, check the following:

  • Install a safety switch and test it regularly.
  • Know where to turn off your power, gas and water supply in an emergency.
  • Pack up electrical equipment that's not in use and store in a safe place.
  • Unplug outside TVs and non-fixed aerials and store in a dry area.
  • When a storm approaches switch off and unplug electrical equipment
  • Shut down your solar PV system using the safe isolation procedure.

Following these simple tips can keep you and your property safe during a storm or flood.

  • Listen to your local radio station for weather updates
  • If you've lost power, turn off your power points and unplug electrical equipment.
  • Don't use a fixed telephone during a thunderstorm – it can deliver an electric shock
  • If flood waters are expected, shift electrical equipment to higher locations.
  • If you are in a car, stay away from powerlines, trees and watercourses. Stay in your vehicle.

Clean-up after a storm or flood

It's important to safely clean-up after a storm. Review the following list and be aware of the risks.

  • Continue to listen to your local radio station for further warnings and advice.
  • Stay away from the vicinity of any fallen powerlines. Report any fallen, low or damaged lines to the emergency services or your local electricity distribution entity.
  • Stay clear of electrical signs, street lights, electrical cables, foil insulation or other conductive material that may be lying around your house
  • If you've lost power, contact your local electrical distribution entity who should be able to advise when power will be reconnected.
  • Don't touch a damaged switchboard. Stay away from switchboards if they are damaged by water, fire or if lightning is close, and warn others to do the same.
  • Do not do your own electrical work it's illegal and dangerous. Always use a licensed electrical contractor to do all your electrical work. Check your electrician is licensed using the  Electrical Licence Search (ELIS)
  • If you have a solar power generating system, avoid getting on the roof unless absolutely necessary and keep away from solar panels and their cables.

If your property or connection is damaged

If your property or connecting line has been damaged by a storm or flood, you may need verification tests on your switchboard, wiring, equipment and appliances to be carried out prior to reconnection to ensure the electrical circuits are still sound.

An electrical contractor will need to perform this task and a certificate of test will ensure your local electricity distribution entity can reconnect your service.

Emergency Management Queensland has more information about storm safety and actions to take before, during and after a storm.

Solar PV safety

If you have a solar PV system that has been damaged in a flood, storm or cyclone you need to have an electrical contractor inspect the system and check it is safe.

Even if the network supply is turned off, PV systems will continue producing voltages during the day whereby the PV cells and associated wiring will be still live. 

An electrical contractor will make any repairs and check the system is electrically safe before it is re-commissioned. This check needs to be done before other clean-up work starts around the PV cells and associated electrical wiring.

During a clean up

  • Do not attempt to turn off the system after a storm/flood/cyclone
  • Stay away from the solar panels and wiring
  • Have an electrical contractor check the system

If your system has been checked and is safe follow the start up procedure.
While this sun is out, your solar PV system is generating electricity. Always treat the system and associated wires as live.

Electrical appliances and equipment

Using water-damaged equipment can result in electric shocks and fires. Review the following risks before using any water-damaged electrical items.

  • Dispose of or have a licensed electrical contractor repair water-affected household electrical items, such as kettles, toasters and televisions.
  • Have a licensed electrical contractor to check all hard-wired electrical appliances, such as air-conditioning units or stoves, intended for re-use. This safety check may be required before the power supply can be reconnected.

Generators

Power from generators can be dangerous if incorrectly managed.

  • Connect your generator to your house electrical wiring using a generator change-over switch and appropriate socket. These switches must be installed by a licensed electrical contractor.
  • Do not connect your generator to your house using a power point on a power circuit or any other connection point. This can cause dangerous 'back-feeding'.
  • Ensure all leads used to connect your generator are in good working order.
  • Use power boards with an overload cut-out switch.
  • Run the generator outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Do not exceed the generator's load rating, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

More information

For more information on electrical safety and storms in your area, contact your local distribution entity:

Read more information for workers and employers about being prepared for natural disasters.

Last updated
13 September 2017

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