This has been a very wet spring, with flooding near us. However, even if you don’t have flooding at your home or farm, you may experience the same dangers if you have puddles in your yard, drips in your basement or standing water in your driveway. The danger: water and electricity just don’t mix. You can be shocked or electrocuted when the two come together.
Safe Electricity warns us that, 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 water entering your home, but it is the first thing you should think of before you step into any wet area or before working with outdoor electric tools if it’s raining.
Water can be energized because of contact with electrical equipment, so do not work with electrical equipment in any wet area. You could be in serious danger of electrocution.
Here are some suggestions from Safe Electricity to help keep you and your family safe during a flood, when working around water in your home or outbuildings, or outside:
- Don’t 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 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.
- Do not drive into flood waters, because it is very difficult to tell by sight how deep the water is. It only takes 6 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 a boat. Flood waters hold unknown dangers. The water could be energized or could 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 the authorities.
If you think you may experience flooding at your home, prepare before the worst happens:
- Install a sump pump with a back-up battery in case the power goes out; also include an alarm to alert you of flooding.
- Elevate the water heater, electric panel, and furnace to keep them clear of potential flood waters.
- Install 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.
Source: Safe Electricity