A recent incident in BC had one woman receive a jolt from an electrical current after lightning hit a power pole near her home during a thunderstorm. At the time, she was holding her cell phone which was plugged into a charger.
Electrical currents from a lightning strike will travel through overhead cables, wires and cords using the path of least resistance until it reaches the ground. In this case, the BC woman created part of that path for the electrical current to reach ground.
According to Environment Canada, each year lightning kills approximately 10 Canadians and injures approximately 100 to 150 others. For information on the different ways lightning injuries occur, click here.
What To Do During A Thunderstorm
Unplug your cell phone or devices when using them during a thunderstorm
Stay away from electrical appliances or anything that will conduct electricity during a thunderstorm.
If possible, turn off and unplug appliances and electronics.
Avoid using a telephone connected to a land line. Use only battery operated or cordless devices.
Stay away from doors and windows.
Avoid washing your hands, showering or washing dishes. Lightning can travel through metal plumbing lines.
A lightning strike up to two kilometers away can cause irreparable damage to your home’s sensitive electronic equipment. Many people believe that their point-of-use surge strips or power bars will provide all the necessary protection. The surge bars should only be used as a secondary line of defense, as many have a one-time use only. After the first strike is absorbed by the surge strip, it becomes nothing more than an extension cord. The best way to protect your home from all types of power surges is a full panel surge protector installed directly on the main electrical panel. A high quality surge protector may sacrifice itself during a thunderstorm, but should protect all your sensitive electronic equipment. For more information on power surges and surge protection, click here.
For your safety and peace of mind, our certified electricians would be happy to install a full panel surge protector in your home.
Having a spring electrical maintenance routine is important after a cold, stormy winter. The following is a checklist of some spring electrical maintenance tasks that every homeowner should be aware of.
Interior Spring Electrical Maintenance
Change your ceiling fan rotation back to a counter-clockwise direction. This will help keep the room as cool as possible during warmer weather.
Test all smoke/CO detectors to make sure they are working. Check all backup batteries. Lightly vacuum the unit surface several times a year to prevent dust from accumulating on the sensors.
Vacuum fan grills to remove surface dust to prolong the life of the motor.
Inspect and vacuum the back of your refrigerator/stand up freezer for debris and dust which can reduce the energy efficiency and create a fire hazard.
Interior & Exterior Spring Electrical Maintenance
Extension cords are for temporary use only. Check the cords for frays or plug damage. A damaged cord should never be used. Replace it with a properly rated cord with the appropriate wire gauge size. For information on how to choose the right extension cord click HERE.
Test interior GFCI receptacles monthly. Test exterior GFCI receptacles before each use.
Exterior Spring Electrical Maintenance
Check yard maintenance and gardening power tools for frayed cords or broken plugs. Repair the damaged cord or replace the entire tool.
Check all exterior lighting and replace burned out light bulbs. A good option would be changing to more energy efficient LED bulbs, if this has not been done already.
Reset lighting timers to accommodate longer daylight hours. Consider installing Astronomical timers which automatically adjust to seasonal changes and daylight savings time.
Check exterior lighting fixtures throughout the spring as birds like to use them as supports for building their nests. Nests can damage your lighting fixture and cause it to overheat and become a fire hazard.
If not already done, take down exterior Christmas lights. Most seasonal light strings are not rated for year-round use. Exposure to UV light from the sun will cause the cords to become brittle.
If you have an overhead service bringing power to your home, visually check connection points to ensure that the cables appear tight and free of obstructions. If you have any concerns, contact our electricians to check for any safety issues and make the required repairs.
Take advantage of the beautiful weather to cut back all branches from around overhead cables to prevent possible damage caused by falling branches. BC Hydro states that branches need to be 3 meters or 10 feet from the cables. Call a professional arborist if this task is beyond your abilities. For more information about safely clearing branches click HERE.
Check all exterior exhaust vents to make sure that they are clear of any debris.
All exterior water features require grounding. Ensure that the grounding is functioning correctly.
A generator should be serviced annually. Some units may need an additional service if used heavily during winter months.
Our electricians would be happy to assist you with all your spring electrical maintenance repairs. Regular maintenance of your electrical system may identify minor concerns before they become expensive repairs.
Power outages can happen any time throughout the year. According to BC Hydro, the stormy weather that BC gets from October to February brings a higher risk of damage. The high winds and rain we experience throughout our province usually doubles the number of calls to BC Hydro about power outages compared to the rest of the year. The following are some things to keep in mind during power outages.
Turn off all the light switches except for 1 indoors and 1 outdoors. This way you and the BC Hydro crews working outside will know when the power has been restored. For updated information on local area outages, refer to the following BC Hydro site map.
Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the temperature. A refrigerator can keep your food cold for about 4 hours, a full freezer can keep food frozen for about 48 hours and a half full freezer can keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
Unplug major electronics like your computer and television and turn the thermostats for your home’s heating system down to low to prevent damage from a power surge when the power is restored.
For cooking and heating purposes, never use charcoal or gas barbeques, fuel burning camping equipment or portable generators indoors as they produce a deadly carbon monoxide gas.
Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector with battery back-up.
During power outages, you may be without running water if you rely on a well pump. For this reason, keep an emergency supply on hand and replenish as needed.
If you only have a cordless phone, you will be left without phone service. Having a corded phone handy and making sure your cell phone is fully charged is a good idea.
To keep yourself informed about the power outages, have a battery powered radio on hand.
Report any fallen trees or downed power lines to BC Hydro at 1-888-769-3766.
If there are downed power lines, stay at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from them.
Power outages can cause damage to your electrical system. Being prepared ahead of time could save you a big headache later. Having your appliances and electronics surge protected could help save them from damage.
A fall electrical maintenance routine is important to prepare your electrical system for the coming winter months. The following is a checklist of some fall electrical maintenance tasks that every homeowner should be aware of.
With leaves now falling from the trees, homeowners may be using leaf blowers to clear their yards. If an extension cord is needed for any fall cleanup equipment, make sure to use only an outdoor rated cord with the appropriate wire gauge size.
If you have trees in your yard, make sure to cut back all branches from around overhead cables. It is better to do it now, before the stormy weather starts to prevent possible damage caused by falling branches. BC Hydro states that branches need to be 3 meters or 10 feet from the cables.
Visually check overhead connection points where your service enters your home to ensure that the cables appear tight and the attachment point is undamaged. If you have any concerns, contact our electricians to check for any safety issues and make the required repairs.
Check all exterior vents for any electrical appliances to make sure that they are clear of debris and that no critters have taken up residence.
Check all exterior lighting and change burned out light bulbs. Reset timers if needed.
Check that all outdoor receptacles are GFCI protected. All outdoor receptacles should be protected with a Code required weatherproof in-use cover. This will prevent water from damaging the sensitive GFCI electronics, even when the receptacle is in use.
Make sure septic, water or sump pumps are tested and working properly. A battery backup for your pump would be strongly advised for when power outages occur. Here is more information on Sump Pump Safety.
Your electrical panel should always remain clean and dry. If you notice any rust or corrosion, call our electricians who are able to provide an Electrical Panel Safety check.
If you have a generator, it should be serviced now to make sure it’s in good working order and ready to go for the next power outage.
Using space heaters is common this time of year. Never use an extension cord to power a space heater as this may cause the cord to overheat and result in a fire.
Gently dust or vacuum your smoke alarms. Dust can build up on the sensor causing it to be less effective.
Vacuum your bathroom exhaust fan grill to keep it clear of dust. This will help extend the life of the fan motor.
Our electricians would be happy to assist you with all your fall electrical maintenance repairs. Regular service and maintenance of your electrical system may identify minor concerns before they become expensive repairs.
This rusty panel certainly needs professional attention. It has been subjected to humidity for so long that a slug has moved in and taken up residence. To function safety, an electrical panel needs to be kept clean and dry, so this slug needs to be evicted today. Rust and corrosion inside the panel are very damaging and if left as is, rusty panel circuits will soon begin to fail as the rust, corrosion or eventual arcing, destroys the contact points. A completely preventable situation will then become an expensive repair.
Your electrical panel is the most important part of your electrical system. It is a piece of equipment that requires periodic maintenance by a licensed electrician. Picture the panel as the heart of your electrical system, sending power to all the circuits throughout your home much like the heart sends energy rich blood throughout the body. A rusty panel can not do this task reliably.
If your electrical panel has been neglected, shows signs of rust or corrosion, and possibly at risk of failure, give us a call. Our technicians can give it a thorough safety check-up and make any required repairs to keep your electrical system functioning safely for years to come.