Four key electrical safety considerations in light of Hurricane Harvey

Blog Post created by lisamariesinatra Employee on Aug 30, 2017

portable generator

Hurricane Harvey continues to pound areas along the Texas coastline and surrounding towns and cities bringing with it high winds, torrential rain and extreme flooding. In some areas, while residents have not been directly affected by severe floods, power outages are a major concern. Still thousands of others who have left their homes for safer ground because of flooding will eventually return to assess their homes for damage and work on rebuilding their neighborhoods.

When authorities say it’s safe to return home, or if you are one of many residents who are at home but have experienced a power outage, NFPA can assist by providing the following electrical safety tips to help reduce your risk for injury:

  • If your home has experienced flooding, it’s important to keep your power off until a professional electrician has inspected your entire home for safety, including appliances. Water can damage the internal components in electrical appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, and cause shock and fire hazards. Have a qualified electrician come visit your home and determine what electrical equipment should be replaced and what can be reconditioned.
  • If you smell gas in your home or neighborhood, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches or engage in any activity that could create a spark.
  • Treat all downed wires as if they are live even if you don’t see any sparks, and especially if there is standing water nearby. Alert authorities immediately if you see downed wires in your area.
  • In the event that electricity may not be available to your home yet and you have not experienced any water in your home, generators are a viable option to power some of your small appliances. However, if used improperly they also pose a fire hazard, risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution.


The following are key guidelines for using a portable generator: 

  • Generators should be operated in well ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent openings.
  • Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
    Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
  • Make sure to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct placement and mounting height.
  • Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.
  • Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled as such. Store the containers outside of living areas.


NFPA’s safety tip sheet on portable generators provides these steps and more to help keep you safe. Find it at


For any questions or concerns about your home’s electrical system, contact a qualified electrician who can help, and visit our electrical safety webpage for additional tips and resources.


More severe weather safety information is available by visiting NFPA’s severe storm fire safety webpage.