December 27, 2018
Electrical Safety During and After Storms
Frequently Asked Questions
Severe storms and natural disasters can cause a variety of electrical safety hazards in and around our homes. Lightning, downed power lines, and floods are just a few of the serious safety concerns associated with storms. Unfortunately, many of these electrical safety hazards remain long after the storm itself has passed.
To help protect you from storm-related electrical hazards, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association are providing answers to common storm safety questions about:
- Power Lines
- Flooded Areas
- Wet Electrical Equipment
- Portable Generators
- Post-Evacuation Procedures
What should I do if I am caught outside during a lightning storm?
- Move to a low point. Lightning hits the tallest available object, so get down low in a crouched position if you are in an exposed area.
- Stay away from trees.
- Avoid metal. Don’t hold onto metal items like bats, golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets, or tools. Stay away from metal sheds, clotheslines, poles, and fences.
- Stay away from water, including pools, lakes, puddles, and anything damp—like grass.
- Don’t stand close to other people. Spread out.
Is there any sort of warning before lightning strikes?
Not necessarily, but sometimes. If you feel a tingling sensation or your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike. Do not lie down. Instead, crouch down, tuck your head, and cover your ears.
What should I do if I encounter a lightning storm while driving in my car?
Slow down and use extra caution. If possible, pull off the road into a safe area.
Am I safer in or out of my car?
Do not leave your vehicle during a thunderstorm. A vehicle is considered safe during a thunderstorm if it is fully enclosed with a metal top such as a hard-topped car, minivan, bus, truck, etc. While inside a safe vehicle do not use electronic devices, such as radio communications.
The storm is still raging outside. Are we safe from lightning if we stay inside the house?
Follow these indoor lightning safety tips to help keep your family safe inside while it’s storming outside:
- To avoid lightning strikes, stay away from windows and doors.
- If possible, unplug electronic equipment before the storm arrives. Avoid contact with electrical equipment and cords during storms.
- Avoid contact with water and plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
Can I talk on the telephone during an electrical storm?
Use corded telephones only for emergencies. You can use cordless or cellular phones.
I have an outside dog. Is it okay to leave him out there during a lightning storm?
Doghouses are not lightning-safe, and chained animals can easily become victims of lightning strikes. You should bring your pets inside to protect them.
What should I do if I encounter a downed power line?
If you see a downed power line, move at least 10 feet away from the line and anything touching it. The human body is a ready conductor of electricity.
The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage zone—and it could do that through your body.
What can I do to help someone who has come in contact with a downed power line?
If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 instead.
Can I use something that is not metal to try to move a downed power line myself?
Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and then electrocute you.
What should I do if I see a downed power line in the street while I am driving my car?
Do not drive over downed power lines.
What if a power line comes down onto my car or I didn’t see it until I’ve driven into it?
If you are in your car and it is in contact with the downed line, stay in your car. Tell others to stay away from your vehicle.
If you must leave your car because it’s on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with the live car and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the car to the earth. Shuffle away from the car.
Is a downed power line still dangerous if it has come down in water, like a pool or pond?
Water is a good conductor of electricity. Any amount of water—even a puddle—could become energized. Be careful not to touch water—or anything in contact with the water—near where there is a downed power line.
My basement has flooded and there is standing water. Is it safe to go down there?
Use extreme care when stepping into flooded areas. Submerged outlets or electrical cords can energize water, posing a lethal trap.
My washer, dryer, and a few other appliances got really wet during the flood. Can I start using them again after they dry out?
Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet until they have been examined by a qualified service repair dealer. Electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely dangerous if re-energized without proper reconditioning or replacement.
Does a flood affect my home’s electrical system, too, or just the appliances?
Electrical items, such as circuit breakers, fuses, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), receptacles, plugs, and switches, can malfunction when water and silt get inside. Discard them if they have been submerged. Have a licensed, qualified professional replace them.
Does it make a difference if the flood was caused by storm water or by a leaky water pipe?
Ocean water and salt spray can be particularly damaging to electrical equipment due to the corrosive and conductive nature of the salt water residue. Damage to electrical equipment can also result from exposure to flood waters contaminated with chemicals, sewage, oil, and other debris.
No matter what caused the flood, electrical appliances should be examined by a qualified service repair dealer before being re-energized, and electrical items that were submerged should be discarded and replaced by a licensed, qualified professional.
Can flooded outside areas be dangerous too?
Yes—downed power lines or submerged outlets from adjacent homes could energize the water. Use extreme caution when entering any flooded area.
Wet Electrical Equipment
My home wasn’t flooded, but some electrical appliances have gotten wet. Do the same safety rules listed above apply to my situation?
Yes—they still apply. Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet until they have been examined by a qualified service repair dealer. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances, such as furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers.
Where can I find out more about what should be done with water damaged electrical equipment?
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has produced a brochure, Guidelines for Handling Water Damaged Electrical Equipment, for use by suppliers, installers, inspectors, and users of electrical products to provide advice on the safe handling of electrical equipment that has been exposed to water. The NEMA brochure may be downloaded free of charge at: www.nema.org/stds/water-damaged.cfm.
I bought a new generator so that I’d be prepared for the next power outage. Is there anything special I should know about installing it?
ESFI strongly recommends that a licensed electrician install home generators to ensure they meet all local electrical codes.
Also, make sure your generator is properly grounded in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Can’t I just plug my generator directly into one of my home’s outlets?
Do not connect generators directly to the household wiring unless an appropriate transfer switch has been installed by a licensed, qualified electrician.
What could happen if I don’t have a transfer switch installed?
Without the proper transfer switch, power provided by the generator can “backfeed” along the power lines, creating a significant electrocution hazard for anyone coming in contact with the lines, including lineworkers making necessary repairs.
I’ve heard that generators should be kept dry. Can I run it in my garage to protect it from the rain?
Never operate a generator inside your home or in any other enclosed—or even partially enclosed—area. Generators very quickly produce carbon monoxide, which can easily enter your home.
Place the generator on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure. Do not operate the generator in wet conditions or where there is standing water.
Can’t I just open the garage door to provide ventilation for the carbon monoxide?
Opening windows or doors or using fans does not provide adequate ventilation to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide. Generators must be located outside a safe distance away from your home’s windows, doors, and vents, through which carbon monoxide can enter your home.
How far away from the house is a safe distance?
Preliminary research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) indicates that even 15 feet from the home is too close to operate a generator safely.
Remember your neighbors, too. Keep your generator a safe distance away from their homes as well.
What exactly is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is created when common fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood, or coal burn incompletely. This odorless, colorless, tasteless gas is often called the “silent killer” because it is virtually undetectable without the use of detection technology like a CO alarm. Extremely high levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes.
How big a problem is carbon monoxide associated with the use of generators?
From 1999-2009, 542 carbon monoxide deaths associated with portable generators were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
More than 80 percent of carbon monoxide deaths related to portable generators occurred in the home, often resulting from operation of a portable generator within the living space of the home, including the basement, closets, and doorways.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include fatigue, shortness of breath, drowsiness, headache, and nausea. Get to fresh air right away if you feel dizzy or weak while running your generator.
Is there anything else I should do to protect my family from carbon monoxide produced by my generator?
Make sure that there is at least one battery-operated or battery-backup carbon monoxide alarm in your home. Test it before using your generator.
Is it safe for my children to play in the area around the generator?
No. Keep children away from portable generators at all times. Also be sure to store generator fuel out of reach of children.
How many appliances can I plug into my generator at one time? Can I use it for my window air conditioner and my refrigerator at the same time?
The capacity of generators varies. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction carefully. Do not overload the generator.
My generator is powering my sump pump, but it is going to need more fuel soon. Can I refuel it while it’s running so I don’t have to turn off the sump pump?
Unplug all appliances from the generator before shutting it down. Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Refueling the generator while it is running is a significant fire hazard.
The storm is finally over. Can I go home now?
First and foremost, do NOT return home until instructed by the appropriate local authorities. Once they give the go-ahead:
- Return home during daylight hours, especially if power has not been restored.
- If you smell gas, leave the premises and notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches, or engage in any activity that could create a spark.
I’ve been told by my local authorities that I can return home now, but could there still be electrical dangers in and around my home?
Yes. Even if you have been authorized to return home, you should still take precautions to protect yourself from electrical hazards posed by downed power lines, flooded areas, and water-damaged appliances and electrical equipment.
Flood Reconnect Inspection Form
If your meter was disconnected due to flooding conditions and you are ready to be reconnected click HERE.
Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association closely monitors flooding along waterways that affect our members. When flooding begins, some entire lines must be de-energized until the flooding ends. We take extraordinary measures to secure lines and equipment to maintain service in the affected areas, and Yazoo Valley seeks to maintain electric service wherever possible. However, public safety will ultimately determine whether a line remains in service.
Yazoo Valley’s first duty is to maintain public safety. Therefore, electric service has been and will be disconnected to dwellings, other buildings and services that cannot be safely served. If water can reach any part of the electrical service—wiring, breaker panels or electric meter—an electrical hazard exists and service will be discontinued. There are also cases when entire lines must be de-energized even when every meter served by that line is not in danger of flooding. If your meter needs to be disconnected, do not attempt to do this yourself. Call Yazoo Valley immediately. We will send personnel to properly and safely disconnect your electrical service.
If your residence or property is flooded or if your meter has been de-energized for the possibility of flooding, it will be necessary to have a qualified electrician inspect and approve the electrical equipment and wiring at your location before we can reconnect your service. If no water flooded your structure, you can sign a waiver stating this and be reconnected. During this time of emergency Yazoo Valley will not charge to disconnect or reconnect your electric meter. However, the proper form must be completed and returned to Yazoo Valley when you are ready to be reconnected. It is available on our website.
As the water rises in the flood plain, transportation, in most cases, will be limited to boats. Boaters should take extra precaution to watch for power lines. In some low-lying areas, water levels may reach high-voltage power lines. Use extreme caution and do not go near a power line in a boat or other vehicle.
We pledge to work with our community and our members to ease the burden created by flooding. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at 662-746-4251.
February 20, 2018
The Board of Directors for Yazoo Valley Electric recently made changes to the by-laws of the Association. Click here to read. Also a paper copy of the by-laws may be obtained at our office in Yazoo City at 2255 Gordon Avenue.
Beginning early this morning we asked our members to conserve power by turning off all unnecessary lights and appliances. Our request to conserve energy was the first time we've ever made such a broad public appeal of this kind. It was a big, scary event. We've never been here before.
Yazoo Valley, along with ten other rural electric cooperatives in Mississippi, owns a share of a Generation and Transmission Company called Cooperative Energy. Cooperative Energy produces, buys and sells energy for the eleven member systems. Cooperative Energy as well as Entergy Mississippi are members of a 14-state electrical grid called MISO. MISO has been great for rate-payers because it provides the opportunity to purchase energy at the lowest possible rate on a daily basis. The MISO map is a large slice of the middle part of America from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. The weather system that passed through Mississippi yesterday also passed through the entire mid-continent. Electric demand reached record levels this morning as the arctic cold settled on our region.
The production of electricity is instantaneous and dependent upon the efficient operation of very complex systems. MISO requires that the generation of electricity always has a margin of capacity above peak demand. Extreme cold weather creates many challenges for operating a power production facility. When a large capacity generator trips off line (which triggered the event this morning), reserve capacities are lost and must be made up in other ways or the grid could collapse.
Cooperative Energy was prepared for this event. All available generation was on line and producing far more energy than the load required. But the electrical grid is interconnected and electricity is not an unlimited resource. We are required to keep a balanced electrical grid, both by the laws of physics and by MISO operating agreements. There are consequences if either is broken. This morning there were several unforced outages across the MISO footprint that created a critically low reserve of electric power.
The good news: we haven't had to initiate "rolling blackouts." The voluntary reduction gave us the required reliability margin. So far it has worked! BTW, we also expect that some of the generation units that tripped will be back in service later today.
We regret the anxiety and inconvenience that this has caused. We'll work on our communications strategies and try to open up more channels to provide accurate reporting of anything affecting your service. Not every member of MISO asked for a voluntary reduction. This is troubling. Be assured, we will fight for equity for our members.
The Mid-south (Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi) region is experiencing a critical shortage of electricity due to the extreme cold weather. This critical shortage includes all electrical utilities: cooperatives (like Yazoo Valley), municipal power systems and investor-owned utilities across the region. Our generation and transmission system has issued the following CRITICAL ALERT NOTICE to pass to our members:
All of our members are asked to reduce their electricity use until further notice. Please turn off all non-essential lighting, appliances, and electronics.This is important because of the extremely low temperatures, which are placing a strain on the electrical system.
You can help by lowering your home’s thermostat to 68 degrees. Also, you can reduce your use of water heaters, electric ovens, washing machines, and dryers.
If the situation does not improve, the next step will be to enact the electric cooperative’s emergency load reduction plans, which may result in a loss of electricity for members on a rotating basis.
Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association Electric appreciates your immediate assistance.
At this time, this does not apply to members dependent upon life supporting medical devices; however, consider making plans for these individuals in case interruption of electric service becomes necessary.
December 28, 2017
Yazoo Valley's Online Bill Pay will be unavailable from December 29, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. through January 1, 2018 at 6:00 a.m.
August 11, 2017
Notice to Members
In a continuing effort to provide safe and reliable electric service to our members, Yazoo Valley EPA contracted with Progressive Solutions, LLC to perform chemical treatment of vegetation within our power-line right of way. For 2017 the majority of this work is focused on circuits R2, R3 and R4 served from our South Redwood substation and the Y2 circuit served from our Little Yazoo substation. Members with properties within the scope of this project were informed by letter on or around July 17, 2017. Those services commenced this morning and will continue over the coming weeks. Don’t be alarmed if you see workers in marked vehicles and on foot wearing bright colored vests and hard hats accessing the powerline right of way on or near your property. If you have concerns regarding this project please contact Brett Cerda at (662)746-4251. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
May 25, 2017
Flood Reconnect Inspection Form
If your meter was disconnected due to flooding conditions and you are ready to be reconnected click HERE.
March 2, 2017
Information about Residential Solar Generation
If you are considering purchasing or installing a solar system to generate electricity at your home or business, contact us first. We require a legal contract for solar electric systems. When solar generation is connected to Yazoo Valley metered wiring at your home or business, it is also interconnected to our wholesale power provider and ultimately to the national power grid. Serious safety hazards can be created for you, our line crews and others if proper precautions are nor taken. For more information about solar generating systems, contact Michael Neely at 662-746-4251.