In Sonoma, Napa, and Marin counties, we have been ravaged by drought and firestorms in recent years. Rain storms have become almost foreign. Until this season. The winter storms, which we welcome to help end the drought, bring their own issues, which could include floods and electrical storms. In addition, the North Bay has experienced a number of earthquakes recently. If you’re wondering what you can do to keep your home’s electrical system safe during a storm, read on for eight electrical safety tips for Sonoma, Marin, and Napa County residents.

Prepare your home’s electrical system for severe weather with these eight safety tips

1. Outdoor Electrical Safety 

Ahead of storm season is an excellent time to make sure all of your outdoor electrical systems are installed properly and free of weather damage. Make sure all your outdoor outlets are rated for outdoor use and have covers.  

2. Outdoor Lighting Safety 

With the shorter days, and the decreased sunlight on stormy ones, it’s more important than ever to make sure the areas around your home are well lit. Walkways, porches, and decks should all be illuminated when you’re using them. When adding new outdoor lighting, investing in motion-sensor LED bulbs can save on electricity.  

3. Power Line Safety 

If you have overhead power lines, make sure your trees are trimmed around them. In addition, contact an arborist, if you feel there is a problem with a tree that may cause it to fall on the lines or your home. Maintaining vegetation health and attending to its management will also help protect your home in the case of a fire storm. You will also want to check for downed power lines after the storm, avoiding them and reporting them to public safety personnel or PG&E immediately.  

4. Space Heater Safely 

If you use space heaters in the winter months to augment your central heating or wall furnaces, make sure they are always plugged directly into a grounded outlet, not an extension cord or surge protector. To prevent an electrical fire, keep them well away from anything flammable, like drapes, couches, or clothing. In addition, if you notice that the lights flicker while you’re using your space heaters, that could be a sign that you need to replace a circuit breaker or that you need to have a new circuit installed to deal with an increased number of appliances that your older home was not designed to accommodate. 

5. Stand-by Generator Safety 

Also, it’s important to keep your stand-by generator in good working order through regular maintenance. If you are considering purchasing one, know that an improperly installed generator can be very dangerous. However, with a professionally installed generator, your lights, electronics, and any necessary medical equipment will continue to run during a power outage.   

6. Lightning Safety 

The North Bay isn’t particularly known for lightning storms, but they do happen. Did you know that, according to the CDC, one third of all lighting strike injuries happen indoors? Lightning strikes typically happen in the summer months in the North Bay, but lightning safety should be practiced year-round. If you hear thunder, immediately seek shelter indoors, in a building with electrical and plumbing.  

If your home is impacted by lightning, the dangerous current can travel through the wiring, plumbing, or metal windows. To avoid electrocution, during an electrical storm, take the following precautions. 

  • Do not use corded phones 
  • Do not bathe, shower, or wash dishes 
  • Stay away from metal windows and doors 
  • Keep your electronics unplugged to protect them as well 
  • Remain sheltered for 30 minutes beyond the last time you hear thunder 

7. Flood Safety 

There are a few neighborhoods in our tri-county area (Sonoma, Marin, and Napa) that have homes with basements, or are situated on flood plains. To stay safe during floods, turn your power off ahead of a flash flood, keep all electrical appliances off of basement floors, and never stand in water while power is on, or to turn it off. During a thunderstorm, you could be electrocuted in your home, if you’re standing in water. If your home has multiple stories, wait out the storm in a higher one. Of course, listen to all emergency alert guidance with regard to evacuating in advance of a flood.  

8. Power Loss Preparation and Safety 

Many types of storms can result in the loss of utilities. In addition, the North Bay experiences Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). There are a number of ways you can prepare your home for power loss, to keep you, your family, and pets safe, and avoid food spoilage and damaged electronics.  


One of the most common issues faced in homes during a power outage is food spoilage. Keeping the refrigerator and freezer closed, and keeping the freezer full, even if it’s half-full of jugs of ice, will preserve your food longer. Also, make sure you have plenty ready-made dry goods, a non-electric can opener, and drinking water.  


Ahead of storms, whether it’s fire, thunderstorm, heavy rain, or even earthquake, keep your electronic devices charged, so that you start with a full charge. Turn off and unplug electronics before a planned power outage, or after one has begun. This will protect them from a surge when the power returns. Also, leave one light on, so you know when it’s back on.  

Safety Alerts and Lighting 

Weather radios, battery-operated radios, and weather alert apps can keep you informed of weather conditions and ensure you don’t miss safety announcements. Battery operated candles and flashlights will help to avoid tripping hazards at night.  

For a more comprehensive exploration of preparing your home in case of a power outage, read Minimize the Impact of the Next PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).  

Protect Your Home and Loved Ones with an Electrical Safety Inspection Ahead of Storm Season

With so many types of storms affecting our region, preparedness has become a way of life. Let the professionals at Schafer Electric help keep your home safe with an electrical safety inspection, stand-by generator installation or maintenance, outdoor lighting installation, or any other electrical need you may have. Schafer Electric Services, Inc is a family-owned business with deep roots in the North Bay, providing expert electrical services to residents of Sonoma, Marin, and Napa counties. Contact our team of professional residential electricians today. 

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