Use extra caution with electricity during a natural disaster.

Managing Real Estate Broker with Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119

Hurricane Sandy left the Shenandoah Valley wet and soggy today.  She also left a lot of people without electricity.  One resident had her electrical service turned off because water was running into her electrical service panel.  The fire company responded to a distress call and found water running into her electrical service and shut it down.  Then, they called me.

I went to see what we could do to get her back up and running.  During the inspection of the problem I Shocktalked to the electrical company about turning her off at the electric pole, but they were too backed up.  They gave me permission to remove the meter and see if I could find the source of the water. 

I've taken hundreds of meters off in the past 40 years.  So, it wasn't a concern.  I took the cover off the meter-base, and then I removed the meter.  There was water inside the meter-base.  I took a towel and dried it out, but there was still evidence of water flowing into the meter.  It's important to extraordinary careful when you've got your hands inside a hot meter.  Ironically, today while standing in the rain with my hands in a hot meter I touched a hot leg and zap.  It bit me.

Fortunately, I wasn't hurt.  I was more frustrated than hurt, but it reminded me of something.  When you're in a situation like a natural disaster, there are things you need to remember about electricity.

  • If you see downed power-lines, stay away.  It sounds like commonsense, but people are killed routinely by downed power-lines.
  • Do not ever assume downed power-lines are dead because they are not sparking.  Always assume everything is hot.
  • Remember, water is a great conductor.  If you have downed power-lines around your car, stay inside the car, don't touch anything metal and call 911.  Do not get out of the car.
  • Do not stand in water and handle something with an electrical source, such as a pump.  I ran into someone doing this today.
  • A wet tree can carry electricity.  If there are lines in a tree, do not touch or get near the tree. 
  • Do not put your hands inside your electrical service panel.  Call a professional.  That's where my service call started today.
  • Do not ever use an aluminum ladder around electrical wires.  If a tree falls across your power lines leave it alone and call the fire department, 911 or your electrical provider.

People always tell me they're afraid of electricity.  I'm glad to hear that.  If you have any hesitation around electrical problems, call a licensed professional and stay away.  Saving a few dollars are not worth your life or a substantial injury. 


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Debbie Reynolds
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty, Your Clarksville Real Estate Professional - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Hey Mike, That is a bit scary but I guess you knew what you were doing. It is a good thing you could come to the aid of your friends and neighbors.

Oct 30, 2012 05:30 PM #1
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

It was more annoying for me than scary, but it did scare the homeowner.  8=)  How a person gets shocked and how he responds to it is often the difference between life and death.  I was fortunate this time. 

Oct 30, 2012 05:48 PM #2
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Gosh, Mike, glad you are OK. That is scary stuff! Thank you for sharing your experience -- and for the reminder/warning that just because the line is down doesn't mean it isn't live. (And we tend to forget how much water is a conductor!)

Oct 30, 2012 05:48 PM #3
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Absolutely, Marney.  Too often people are too casual around down power lines.  We need to always treat them as live lines.  Be careful out there.

Oct 30, 2012 06:00 PM #4
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR Silver Spring, MD and beyond

Hi Mike, sadly I just heard today that a woman was electrocuted because she stepped into a puddle with a downed power line in it .. everyone has got to be extra careful. We didn't know what we would find outside and kept the girls in the house all day, just in case. I am definitely one of those people who are afraid of electricity - best to leave that to professionals. Glad to hear you are OK!

Oct 30, 2012 06:07 PM #5
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

That was a smart play today, Andrea.   Too often people walk out into areas totally unaware of the dangers.  It can be a disaster.  Electricity definitley demands our respect, and it should get it.  8=)  (Even from those of us who deal with it all the time.)

Oct 30, 2012 06:15 PM #6
David Shamansky
US Mortgages - David Shamansky - Highlands Ranch, CO
Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg
You are so right here and it's so serious and dangerous. I can't believe how many accidents could be avoided with a little extra caution
Oct 30, 2012 07:08 PM #7
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Absolutely, David.  It only takes a moment to make a major mistake. 

Oct 30, 2012 07:15 PM #8
Joni Staples
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®
YIKES! That's scary! I'm glad that you are okay. Be careful!!
Oct 31, 2012 12:38 AM #9
Conrad Allen
Re/Max Professional Associates - Webster, MA
Webster, Ma, Realtor

Hi Mike.  Good thing it was a 110 bite and not bigger.

Oct 31, 2012 03:34 AM #10
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

You know what you're doing and you got zapped...........electricity scares me, I leave it to the trained professionals.

Oct 31, 2012 03:42 AM #11
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Your Dream Our Passion

Morning Mike it looks like Roger got to the point before I did.  People even professionals make errors the problem in dealing with electricity is for a lot of people they only get one chance. 

Oct 31, 2012 03:50 AM #12
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Thanks, Joni.  A rookie mistake. 

Very true, Conrad.  Fortunately, it hit the back of my hand.  It still got my attention.  8=)

I hesitate to say I know what I'm doing when that happens, Roger.  8-)  Just a moment of carelessness.  Ouch!

That is true more often than not, James. 

Oct 31, 2012 04:56 AM #13
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Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

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