Sarawak Energy Safety Advisory For Stormy Weather

KUCHING, 18 MAY 2020, MONDAY: Stormy weather conditions with heavy rainfall and strong wind can cause electrical safety hazards. Downed power lines and fallen electrical poles are among the most common forms of damage caused by the recent adverse weather conditions.

Sarawak Energy is reminding members of the public to be cautious of damaged electrical facilites following a storm as fallen poles and power lines might still be energised or live, and to make sure not to attempt to move the equipment themselves.

Instead, they should wait for the utility’s technical team to remove and replace the fallen electrical poles and power lines safely.

Anyone who encounters fallen electrical pole and power lines, should always assume the equipment is energised and alert Sarawak Energy immediately for assistance. Make sure not to touch or drive over fallen power lines, and to keep at least 10m away from the site.

The technical team can be alerted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by dialling 1300 88 3111 or through the SEB Cares mobile app to report the incident.

The current wet and windy weather condition is also proving to be a challenge in Sarawak Energy’s efforts to restore supply safely and quickly during interruptions.

“Electricity and water don’t mix so when it comes to safe repair and restoration during rainy weather conditions, it will most certainly take a longer time than usual. Safety is our top priority and this means ensuring that the surrounding conditions are safe before work can begin or continue,” explained Yusri Safri, Sarawak Energy Vice-President for Distribution.

While the power utility can deploy its technical team almost immediately in response to complaints, he said the recent stormy weather conditions across the state had hampered quick action from the team as heavy rain and lightning were making it unsafe to work.

“When work is done and before a line can be re-energised, the technical team will need to patrol the lines again to ensure it is safe to restore supply. This includes making sure the other poles are in order and there are no fallen lines or any other obstructions along the stretch,” he continued.

“We want to ensure our team as well as the public are safe and we ask for patience from affected customers as we safely restore supply,” Yusri said.

There have also been cases, especially in rural areas, where repair and supply restoration works could only be completed the following day as the rainy conditions affected accessibility to work sites by making roads muddy and slippery .

Recently in Saratok, excavation works by a third party contractor damaged an underground cable and interrupted power supply to several villages. However, muddy terrain and unsafe travelling conditions meant that fault tracing and the subsequent repair works were delayed and could ony proceed after conditions were deemed safe.

On 12 May, supply to a wide area of Tambirat in Asajaya was interrupted at close to 1am when strong winds took down three electrical poles. A thunderstorm in the area delayed repair works and supply was only restored in the afternoon.

In a situation where power lines fall on your vehicle, please be aware of the following:

• Remain inside the vehicle until help arrives and alert others so as to keep clear and not to touch the vehicle.

• If you must leave the vehicle due to other dangers such as fire, jump away from the vehicle so that you do not touch the vehicle and try to land with both feet on the ground at the same time. Continue to keep your feet together at all times on the ground and shuffle at least 10m away from the site.

• Do not walk or run - it is dangerous to do so. A downed line creates a voltage gradient on the ground surface so walking or running cause your legs to act as a bridge between two areas of different voltages, forming a circuit for electricity to travel. If you continue to keep your feet together, then a circuit can’t be formed for electricity from the ground to travel.

File photos of electrical poles and downed power lines due to stormy weather.

Yusri Safri, Sarawak Energy Vice President for Distribution