Melting snow and heavy rains often cause flooding in lowland areas, homes and basements. Safe Electricity reminds everyone to be alert to electrical equipment that could be energized and in contact with water, along with other potential hazards that create a serious danger of electric shock. Cleaning up and using water-damaged appliances also carry safety risks. As part of the “Teach Learn Care” TLC Campaign, Safe Electricity urges parents and other caregivers to make sure children are aware of these hazards as well.
“The prospect of an electrical accident is probably not top of mind when you’re dealing with a flooded basement, room or even outdoors,” said Molly Hall, executive director of Safe Electricity. “But it’s the first thing you should think of before you step foot in the water.”
Safety measures to keep in mind include:
- Never step into a flooded basement or other room if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances or cords.
- Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you can’t 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’re wet or when you’re standing in water.
- Keep electric tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from wet surfaces. Do not use electric yard tools if it’s raining or the ground is wet.
- If an electrical appliance has been in contact with water, have a professional check it out before it is used. It may need to be repaired or replaced.
“A good safety measure is to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) professionally installed on outlets,” Hall said. “These safety devices can cut off power instantly if there’s a problem.”
GFCIs are recommended for outdoor outlets, and outlets near wet areas of the home such as kitchen, bath and laundry room. If time does not permit installation before a storm, you can purchase portable GFCIs from a hardware store.
Accidents and fires involving electricity result in more than a thousand deaths, and ten thousand injuries each year.