Expert Electric Blog

Winter Electrical Safety Tips

Electrical safety tips for winter can help keep you and your home safe and secure during power outages, storms and other electrical challenges that come with winter. Winter is here soon, and when we think of winter, we think of snow, ice and strong winds. As we head in for a cold and snowy season, here are some electrical safety tips for winter.

Winter electrical checklist for home:

  • If there is heavy accumulation of snow and ice, it can bring trees and branches down onto power lines causing power outages and electrically charged hazards. It’s always a good idea to inspect the trees surrounding your property and call your local authority to trim branches away from overhead power lines before a bigger issue arises.
  • Try to stay warm, cozy and safe. It’s a good idea to research before buying portable heaters and electrical blankets and ensure they bear a recognized Canadian certification mark like CSA or UL.
  • Keep a good supply of candles, first aid kit materials and water handy in case of a power outage.
  • In case of flooding, shut off your main electrical panel if there is a main disconnect switch; then shut off all your breakers and do not stand in water or be in contact with metal when doing this. Use a wooden stick to switch off all your breakers.
  • If the basement is already flooded, don’t touch anything! Contact BC Hydro to cut power off at the pole or the meter. After the power has been restored contact an electrician to investigate that all electrical components that were flooded are checked proper and safe operation before power is restored.
  • Do not plug in or use electrical appliances that have been wet until they have been checked by a licensed electrical contractor or serviced by the manufacturer.
  • Portable generators, when used correctly, can provide security and comfort during power outages. Only use in dry, well-ventilated areas keep them outdoors and never connect portable generators to electrical appliances or wiring components that have been affected by flood water.
  • If you have a generator , then it is a good idea to have it serviced regularly to ensure safe use.
  • Be aware of water and exposed wires – With the freezing and thawing that occurs, it is possible for water to find its way into all the nooks and crannies of your home. Walk around your home’s interior and exterior walls and look for any exposed wires that could come into contact with water. Make sure any problems are addressed quickly.
  • Home surge protector – Having a home surge protector will help suppress surges that can result from electrical storms to prevent electrocutions and damage to appliances and electronics.
  • Surge protectors on your home power bars – You can also protect your appliances and electronic devices in your home with surge protectors. Review your home setup to check if surge protectors are active and still functional.

Important Electrical Tips for Winter

Be prepared for a power outage

In the event that there is a power outage you should be prepared for the long haul if the worst-case scenario occurs. Sometimes power can be out for hours. If an outage occurs at night, you cannot rely on your space heaters to keep you warm. Have a flashlight and blanket ready so you can stay warm and navigate your home safely.

Our most important recommendation is to have your home’s electrical system inspected so that you can be sure you are as prepared as can be. An expert electrician can identify potential issues and problems that could occur during the winter season. If you have more questions about your home’s electrical system or think it is time to have your home inspected, contact your local Expert Electric.

Prepare an emergency safety kit for long outages

To be prepared for extended power outages or even in the event of a serious natural disaster, have an emergency kit ready. The emergency kit should be readily accessible and contain batteries, flashlight, blankets/sleeping bags/warm clothes, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and sufficient water for your family.

This will keep your family warm, fed, and safe during an emergency. Check with your local safety authorities and put together a safety kit. For a full list of emergency kit supplies, please visit the BC Hydro website.

Keep away from downed power lines

There maybe downed power lines, which may still be live. Stay at least 35 feet or 11 meters away as electricity can travel through water and the ground surrounding power lines. A few weeks ago we discussed power line safety. This is a hot topic during the winter because roads are slippery and car accidents increase.

If a car hits a power line and the electrical wiring falls down, keep at least three metres or 10 feet away. Power lines are very powerful and can cause serious electrocution if you are not careful. Keep your family and children educated, as they could come across a downed power line during their daily commute.

Refrain from clearing snow, ice or storm debris until the power is disconnected or power lines are repaired. In case of a downed power line, please report immediately to BC Hydro.

In the event that a power line lands on your vehicle, stay in the vehicle until emergency responders arrive. Exiting a vehicle that has been contacted by a live power line is extremely dangerous. Similarly, do not attempt to assist someone if their vehicle is in contact with power lines.

Inspect all large trees and branches on your property

Winter storms can cause significant damage to trees outside your property. It is important to inspect any trees on or near your property that could result in damage to your home or building. Any loose branches should be removed to minimize the risk of falling. Large trees can also damage power lines and vehicles.

If possible, park your vehicle in a safe area that is located away from any large trees that could fall on it. If you are unsure of whether a tree poses a significant threat to your property, call the licensed electricians at Expert Electric.

Clean up any electrical equipment outside of your home

Snowfall and Winter storms mean an influx in the amount of water present on your property. Because water and electricity don’t mix, it is crucial to ensure that there are no loose wires or electrical cords present around your property. All electrical equipment should be stored safely away while not in use.

Any large electrical equipment such as pools, hot tubs or outdoor lighting should be inspected to ensure that it is operating properly and the equipment’s cords and electrical wiring are hazard free.

Ensure your backup generator is ready to go

As we said, dangerous road conditions can cause damage to power lines and in turn results in power outages. For those homes and businesses equipped with standby generators, it is a good time to have regular maintenance and check-ups done.

Have a professional inspect the power generator to ensure that oil levels and gas levels are correct, and the connection to the home is safe and secure. If a power outage occurs, you want to be confident that it will power your home/business when it needs to.

Avoid using candles during power outages

Many people use candles to light their rooms during power outages. While this can deliver a nice ambience, it is very dangerous. If the candles are unattended or wax drips and causes build up around the candle, it can result in a fire. Instead, use flashlights or LED candles.

Unplug major appliances during power outages

During an extended power outage, unplug your major appliances (oven, fridge, freezer, television) and turn off light fixtures (You can leave on some lights so you know when the power returns). This can prevent power surges from occurring and damaging the appliances when power returns.

Space heater safety tips for winter

In the winter we want to stay warm in the home. We put on extra layers, turn up the furnace, and the most popular option, bring out the space heaters. Space heaters are great for bringing warmth to a small room or area of your home. But they can also be a hazard because of their exposed heat output. Because of the high heat output of electrical heaters, it is important to keep them away from flammable material. So when setting up your space heater, ensure that it is not in direct contact with anything and that it is out of reach from little ones.

Ensure that they are not in contact with any furniture, rugs, and curtains. If you feel surrounding objects becoming hot, move the heater. Fires are easily started if the heater is unattended. Always turn off the heater when it’s not in use. Read our Winter Electrical Tips for more tips on space heater safety and other winter safety tips.

The winter can bring harsh weather conditions that affect our daily lives. With the proper precautions you can be prepared for the worst situations. If you have questions about your home electrical system during the winter or power generators, contact your local Expert Electric at 604-681-8338.