Weather Forecast


Electricity and water don’t mix

There’s been no shortage of rainfall this summer, and it’s a good time to remind homeowners that water and electricity don’t mix.

It’s more difficult to keep the two apart with heavy rains that cause high water levels and flooding around homes.

Otter Tail Power Company’s Safety Services Manager Eric Hamm advises people not to go near water that may be in contact with any electrical component such as a pad-mount transformer or a downed power line.

“That includes flooded basements,” says Hamm. “Don’t go there 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, and so on.

“Don’t attempt to operate appliances or equipment whose electrical components may have been compromised by water without first having them evaluated by a qualified electrician.”

Here are some other safety tips for anyone who might be affected by high-water conditions, some that you may not have thought about:

Don’t use power tools or other electrical appliances in damp or wet areas.

Don’t even consider going near a downed power line.

Don’t connect a portable generator directly to your home’s wiring and never plug it into a regular household outlet.

Power only essential equipment because overloading your generator can damage appliances and electronics. Use adequately sized power cords to support the electrical load, and make sure your generator is properly grounded.

And be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s other instructions for safely operating a portable generator.

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.

Power can be disconnected in an emergency situation by a public safety official, which may include the mayor, incident commander, or fire chief.

“If your home has been without electrical service, either at your request, public safety official order, or due to a flood-related power interruption, electrical codes may require an electrical inspector’s wiring certificate before your home can be reenergized,” says Hamm.

Emergency responders, in particular, should remember that high water levels can reduce power line clearances in some areas. Be especially alert when your work in flooded areas might put you in contact with energized electrical equipment including overhead lines, transformers, and substations.

Now for a water-related health hazard of another kind: Swimming.

The best way to prevent recreational water illnesses is to keep germs out of the water in the first place. Swimmers can protect themselves and others by following these six tips:

Don’t swallow pool or lake water.

Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming.

Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing diapers.

Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.

Take children on bathroom breaks or change diapers often.

Change diapers in a bathroom, not at poolside or beachside.

Swimming is great exercise and a good way to enjoy the summer, and the best way to keep people swimming is to keep the water safe for everyone.