Electrical safety during storms
Storms, floods, cyclones and unpredictable weather are a part of life in Queensland. Be prepared for storm season and follow these tips to make sure you and your home are electrically safe.
Prepare your property for storms and floods
Before a storm or wet season:
- Install a safety switch and test it regularly.
- Know where to turn off your power, gas and water supply in an emergency.
- Pack up electrical equipment that's not in use and store in a safe place.
- Unplug outside TVs and non-fixed aerials and store in a dry area.
- Switch off and unplug electrical equipment when a storm approaches.
- Shut down your solar PV system using the safe isolation procedure.
Follow these simple tips to keep you and your property safe during a storm or flood:
- Listen to your local radio station for weather updates.
- Turn off your power points and unplug electrical equipment if you’ve lost power.
- Don't use a fixed telephone during a thunderstorm – you can get an electric shock.
- Move electrical equipment to higher locations if flood waters are expected.
- Stay away from powerlines, trees and watercourses.
Clean-up after a storm or flood
It's important to clean-up safely after a storm.
- Listen to your local radio station for further warnings and advice.
- Report fallen, low or damaged powerlines to the emergency services or your local electricity distribution entity and stay away from them.
- Stay away from electrical signs, street lights, electrical cables, foil insulation or other conductive material that may be lying around your house.
- Stay away and don’t touch switchboards if they are damaged by water, fire or if lightning is close, and warn others to do the same.
- Don’t do your own electrical work - it's illegal and dangerous. Always use a licensed electrician, you can check your electrician is licensed using our Electrical Licence Search (ELIS).
- If you have a solar power generating system, avoid getting on the roof unless absolutely necessary and keep away from solar panels and their cables.
- If there’s asbestos – make sure you know how to clean it up safely.
Property or connection damage
If your property or connecting line has been damaged by a storm or flood, you may need verification tests on your switchboard, wiring, equipment and appliances to be carried out prior to reconnection to ensure the electrical circuits are still working.
A licensed electrician will need to perform this task and a certificate of test will ensure your local electricity distribution entity can reconnect your service.
Queensland Disaster management has more information about storm safety and actions to take before, during and after a storm.
Solar PV systems
If your solar PV system has been damaged, get a licensed electrician to inspect it, make any repairs and check it’s electrically safe before it is re-commissioned. This check needs to be done before other clean-up work starts around the PV cells and associated electrical wiring.
Even if the network supply is turned off, PV systems will continue producing voltages during the day, so the PV cells and associated wiring will be still live.
During a clean up:
- Do not attempt to turn off the system after a storm/flood/cyclone.
- Stay away from the solar panels and wiring.
- Have an electrician check the system.
If your system has been checked and is safe, follow the start up procedure.
While the sun is out, your solar PV system is generating electricity. Always treat the system and associated wires as live.
Electrical appliances and equipment
Using water-damaged equipment can cause electric shocks and fires so make sure you:
- Dispose of or have a licensed electrician repair water-affected electrical items, such as kettles, toasters and televisions.
- Have a licensed electrician check all water-damaged hard-wired electrical appliances, such as air-conditioning units or stoves, intended for re-use. This safety check may be required before the power supply can be reconnected.
Power from generators can be dangerous, so make sure you:
- Connect your generator to your house electrical wiring using a generator change-over switch and appropriate socket. These switches must be installed by a licensed electrician.
- Do not connect your generator to your house using a power point on a power circuit or any other connection point. This can cause dangerous 'back-feeding'.
- Ensure all leads used to connect your generator are in good working order.
- Use power boards with an overload cut-out switch.
- Run the generator outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
- Do not exceed the generator's load rating, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
For more information on electrical safety and storms in your area, contact your local distribution entity:
Read more information for workers and employers about being prepared for natural disasters.