Image of fallen tree

Beware of electrical shocks during severe storms

21 January 2021, Sandton. With extreme weather warnings issued for KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and other areas it is safe to predict that communities need to be prepared. Eskom warns the public of the higher risk of coming into contact with electricity during heavy rains.

Eskom is advising all South Africans to be cautious of overhead power cables that are damaged, collapsed or low-hanging as a result of stormy weather conditions, vandalism and illegal connections. 

Illegally connected cables lack safety features such as protective insulation – they sometimes spark and are not always suspended at a safe height above ground level, making it possible for children, the general public and animals to make contact with them with serious consequences. 

“At Eskom, one of our main areas of focus is electricity safety. Severe wind and rain storms can cause damage on electrical infrastructure, but our collaborative efforts with disaster management centres will ensure that damage is fixed as soon as possible and people are not in harm’s way. However, there are aspects that each person can control and implement for their safety in their homes and businesses,” says Miranda Moahlodi, Senior Manager for Occupational Health and Safety at Eskom.

Water is a conductor of electricity and this is the reason why there is an increased risk of injury during the rainy season.  If the exposed or damaged power cable touches water, the water conducts the electricity into the ground, puddle, tree or stream.  If a person touches the cable whilst wet or standing in the water– there is a chance of an injury.  She shares these potentially life-saving tips:

  • In your home, as the damage escalates, turn the main switch off if water starts entering the home.
  • Remove all electrical equipment such as heaters, chargers, fans and power extensions off the floor and place them on high surfaces to avoid water damage.
  • If your area has known illegal connections it is best to report this to Eskom on 0800 11 27 22 to have them removed as these are not safe during severe storms and will pose major safety risks.
  • If you suspect that any of your electrical appliances were submerged in water or have had contact with water do not use them until you have had a professional declared them safe to use.
  • Do not remove trees or branches that may have fallen over, especially when it is raining, and report such to the local municipality.  If a power cable has made contact with the fallen tree/branch – it may cause an electric shock when touched.

“We are appealing to people to be more cautious during stormy conditions and to avoid touching exposed or low hanging power cables. By remaining vigilant we can ensure that our loved ones remain safe during the summer season,” says Moahlodi.


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