According to the Federal Emergency Disaster Agency (FEMA), floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. 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 possibility 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 cooperative to shut off power at the meter.
- Never use electric appliances or touch electric wires, switches or fuses when you are wet or 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. It is difficult to tell by sight how deep flood waters are. It only takes 6 inches of water for your car to lose control and stall. It could be swept out of control and into danger.
- Do not enter flood waters on foot or in a boat. Flood waters hold unknown dangers. The water could be energized or sweep you into electrical equipment. Just 6 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 authorities.
If you are in a flood-prone area, consider purchasing a sump pump with a back-up battery and flood alarm. Additionally, you can elevate your 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 indoors in areas 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.