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Electricity and water don’t mix

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Even though this spring’s thaw has been slow in coming, Otter Tail Power Company reminds its customers and neighbors that electricity and water don’t mix.

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Remember that the spring thaw can cause high water levels that can reduce line clearances, and that increases the potential for accidental contact with electricity.

Otter Tail Power Company Safety Director Eric Hamm urges flood response personnel to be especially alert when their work in flooded areas might put them in contact with energized electrical equipment including overhead lines, transformers, and substations.

Hamm also warns area residents not to go near any flooded areas, including basements, if the water level has reached any part of the electrical system, such as electrical outlets, or the electrical connections on water heaters, water softeners, heating systems, etc.

Visit www.otpco.com and click on Outages/safety, then select “Take precautions during spring floods” for helpful how-to videos.

Here are some other safety tips for anyone who might be affected by high-water conditions:

  • Before high waters arrive, stock a supply of bottled drinking water and food that requires little cooking and no refrigeration. Your emergency kit should contain a manual can opener, battery-powered radio and flashlight, and extra batteries, as well as medicines and baby and pet supplies, if applicable.
  • Charge your cell phone and keep the charger with you in case you need to leave your home.
  • Make sure your sump pump is operational and that the discharge hose isn’t frozen or plugged. Pour some water into the sump to see if the pump starts. If it doesn’t, check the electrical connections, consult your owner’s manual, or call a plumber.
  • Do not use power tools or other electrical appliances in damp or wet areas.  It’s a good idea to have a battery-operated power supply or portable generator to run the sump pump and other critical electrical appliances in case of a power interruption. But remember to disconnect these power supplies if you must evacuate.
  • Plug basement floor drains, bathtubs, sinks, and toilets in case your basement floods or the power goes out.
  • If you must evacuate your home or business and don’t know how to shut off your main breaker or fuse box, call Otter Tail Power Company’s 800-257-4044 customer service number for advice or assistance.
  • Don’t attempt to operate electrical appliances or equipment that have been submerged in floodwater. Power can be disconnected in an emergency situation by a public safety official, which may include the mayor, incident commander, or fire chief.
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