High winds cause all sorts of problems with electrical systems, and in Colorado, we see them all. From hurricane-force blasts roaring across mountaintops and through passes to tornados and microbursts on the plains, windstorms account for millions of dollars’ worth of damage in the state every year, and downed power lines are a leading cause of wildfires, especially during extended dry spells. Along with economic losses, windstorms frequently cause injury and loss of life.
Staying Safe in High Winds
Strong winds can create numerous hazards, from flying debris, downed trees and power lines, to building collapses. The safest place in a windstorm is indoors, so take shelter inside and avoid windows, which can be shattered by flying or falling objects. Reduce risks by bringing loose objects inside and securing things like trashcans and patio furniture that can be blown about.
If you can’t get indoors, the next safest place is in a vehicle, although that comes with its own risks. A stationary car gives a fair amount of protection from flying objects and reasonable safety from falling debris, but there’s much more window area to shatter than in a building, and even a heavy vehicle is no match for a tornado. If a tornado strike is imminent, you’re safer outside a vehicle. Find a low spot, lie face down, and cover your head with your hands. Avoid sheltering under an overpass or bridge; besides creating traffic hazards, the winds can actually be higher due to channeling and can carry dangerous debris.
Driving in High Winds
Strong gusts can push a vehicle out of its lane, so always keep both hands on the wheel and be ready. Stay alert to the traffic around you and keep a safe distance away, especially from high-profile vehicles and trailers, since they are more likely to swerve or even flip in high winds.
If winds are causing unsafe driving conditions, pull off the road away from trees, power lines, or other objects that can fall onto your vehicle. Stay in the vehicle and turn on your hazard flashers so other drivers can see you.
Dealing with Power Lines
Never try to retrieve objects that have become caught in overhead lines. Their voltage is extremely high and can arc as far as ten feet or more. Never touch anything resting on a line such as a tree; even wood can contain enough moisture to conduct high-voltage electricity.
Stay well away from downed lines. Their charge can travel through snow cover and damp ground as well as standing water. Never try to move someone who is being shocked if they are still in direct or indirect contact with a live power source; you can also become a victim.
If you’re inside a car that’s in contact with power lines or in an electrified area like a pool of water, stay there and avoid touching any parts of the vehicle’s frame. Call 911 and roll down a window to warn anyone who might approach the vehicle. If you don’t have phone service, honk your horn to alert someone to call for help. Stay in the car until help arrives unless there’s a fire. In that case, open the door carefully, jump out without touching any metal parts or other hazards, and get safely away.
Help is a Phone Call Away
If high winds have created a danger to life or property, call 911. When objects are caught or resting on power lines, call your utility’s help line. And when you need repairs to your electrical system, or if you just want to be sure you’ve weathered the storm safely, call Allstar Electrical Services.
Allstar Electrical has served Colorado for over 15 years and is top-rated by the BBB and Angie’s List. We offer homeowners, builders and businesses reliable, professional electrical work that is safe and up to code.
When trouble strikes, call Allstar Electrical at 303.399.7420 or visit our website. Then use our handy on-line forms to request an estimate or set up an appointment. Allstar also offers 24/7 radio-dispatched emergency service throughout our Front Range service area.