Electrical Safety And Flooding

Posted on: 4 December 2014


If you live in an area that's prone to flooding, you need to be prepared well ahead of time for flood conditions. Many people think about emergency supplies, radios and first-aid kits, but it might not occur to them to think about electrical safety. Below are some electrical safety tips you can follow before, during and after a flood.

Before a Flood

Ensure that your home's circuit breakers have been clearly labeled well ahead of time. If a flood is approaching your home, turn off your electricity by throwing the main switch on the breaker box. (Don't do this, however, if you have to stand in water to reach the breaker.) Then turn off all the individual breakers.

Back inside your home, unplug any small appliances. Again, don't unplug anything if you have to stand on a damp floor in order to do it. Assuming that water hasn't yet reached any of your larger appliances, unplug them and put them on blocks or relocate them to higher ground.

During a Flood

Don't enter any room in which water may have covered electrical outlets or cords that are still plugged in. You need to stay away from any water that has electricity in it. One indicator of this would be an area covered with water from which you're hearing crackling, popping, snapping or buzzing sounds. You may even see sparks. Do not go into this water.

Make sure that you keep your children and pets well away from both outdoor and indoor electrical equipment or appliances that are surrounded by floodwater. Also keep them far away from any downed power lines, since electricity can arc several feet from a downed line. Report any power lines that are down to your power company or local authorities immediately.

After a Flood

Before you go into any part of your home (such as your basement) that you know has been flooded, you should make certain that the electrical power to the home has been turned off. Do not turn on any appliances, lights or other electrical devices until a qualified electrician has had a chance to go over your entire electrical system.

If your home's furnace has been flooded, it should be thoroughly inspected by an electrician for any problems before you use it again. There's a good chance that it's going to have to be cleaned, dried out and rebuilt before you can start it up.