The concern regarding flooding and electricity tends to come up most often in springtime. That’s because spring is considered to be Flood Season in most parts of Canada. The reality is that any home can be affected by flooding, and at any time of year. Since flooding and electricity is always a dangerous combination, some basic electrical safety knowledge is helpful.
Whether your home falls victim to the rising waters in a flood prone area, or an over flowing toilet, knowing what to do (or not to do) regarding electrical safety during a flood is important.
Flooding and Electricity Safety Tips
- Never touch electrical equipment or appliances if you are wet or standing in water. This could result in an electrical shock or even electrocution.
- If it is safe to do so, unplug appliances and electrical devices from the power source receptacle.
- If possible, move appliances out of the path of water, whether from external flooding or a burst pipe, water heater, or over flowing tub or toilet.
- Do not enter the basement or low lying areas where water and electricity may both be present.
- If water is approaching and the area around the electrical panel is still completely dry, turn OFF the main breaker before you evacuate. This helps to prevent fires and protect first responders who may need to enter the building.
- If you have advance notice of a flood and have time to prepare, move electrical appliances to a higher level out of the path of approaching water.
- If flood water has already entered your building, do not touch any electrical components. Call a licensed electrician for help to safely access the electrical risks.
- Watch for damaged or downed power lines while evacuating.
- Stay out of standing water as it may be electrically charged by an underground power source or downed power lines.
- Homes located in low lying, flood prone areas should have a Flood Evacuation Plan in place so family members/occupants know what to do and where to go, in the event of a flood emergency. For information on how to develop an Emergency Flood Evacuation Plan, Click HERE.
- Inspect and service the hot water tank regularly, as this is a very common cause of flooding. Replace an aging hot water tank as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Keep gutters and down spouts clear of debris, ice and snow so water can drain away from the house and not pool around the foundation and openings to the home.
- Inspect and maintain electric sewer and sump pumps annually. Install battery backup pumps with alarms to alert you when it is running on battery power.
Water damage is a major contributor to high insurance claims resulting in increased annual premiums to a homeowner’s insurance policy. Although flood damage from natural causes is not usually controllable, regular service and maintenance of electrical and plumbing equipment can often identify equipment problems before a flood can occur.