As all the snow we have received begins to melt, it increases the possibility of flooding. Flooding and electricity do not mix, and everyone needs to be aware of the dangers.
According to the Federal Emergency Disaster Agency (FEMA), floods are one of the most common hazards in the United Sates. The prospect of an electrical accident is probably not top of mind when you are dealing with flooding in your home, but it is the first thing you should think of before you step into a flooded area. If there is any danger the water could be energized because of contact with electrical equipment, do not enter the area. You could be in serious danger of electrocution.
Here are some additional suggestions from Safe Electricity to help keep you and your family safe during a flood:
- Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you cannot reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
- Never use electric appliances or touch electric wires, switches, or fuses when you are wet or when you are standing in water.
- Keep electric tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from wet surfaces. Do not use electric yard tools if it is raining or the ground is wet.
- Never drive into flood waters because it is very difficult to tell by sight how deep floodwaters are. It only takes six inches of water for your car to lose control and stall. Your car could be swept out of control and into electrical dangers.
- Also, do not enter flood waters on foot or in boat. Flood waters hold unknown dangers. The water could be energized or could sweep you into electrical equipment. Just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
- If you see downed power lines or damaged equipment, stay away, warn others to stay away, and notify the authorities.
If you are in a flood prone area, one action you can take to be better prepared is to have a sump pump with a back-up battery in case the power goes out and an alarm to alert you of flooding. Additionally, you can elevate the water heater, electric panel, and furnace to keep them clear of potential flood waters.
Safe Electricity also recommends installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) on outdoor outlets and indoor outlets in areas of the house that are prone to flooding such as the basement. GFCIs should also be installed in rooms with heavy water use such as the laundry room, bathroom, and kitchen.
For more information on avoiding electrical hazards, visit SafeElectricity.org.