Electrical Safety After a Flood

To avoid injuries, don’t rush directly into clean up mode immediately after a flood.  Take a few minutes to assess the electrical situation around you and think about how to do the clean up safely.

Be especially careful before you step into any flooded areas, either inside and outside the house. Submerged outlets, electrical cords, and downed power lines can energize water and create a deadly hazard you may not realize.

Here are a few things to consider after a flood near your home:

  1.  The best way to completely disconnect your home from electrical power is to remove the electric meter.  The best people to do this are the utility company, fire department, or a licensed electrician.
  2. You may think that since your power is out you are safe, but if a neighbor is running a generator incorrectly and back-feeding power into the grid, you could get enough electricity to hurt you from his unsafe actions.
  3. Do not go into a flooded area alone, or without a flashlight.  You might step into an uncovered sump hole, or just slip and fall over something you can’t see.  You will need someone close by to help you.  If your rubber boots fill with water, it will be much more difficult to recover your balance and get back up.  That 2nd person might save your life.
  4. Later, even after the water has gone down, your electrical system is still dangerous. Every component needs to be checked by a qualified electrician who will replace damaged or ruined portions.  Grounding and bonding must be checked to ensure it is adequate.  When a professional believes it is safe, the power meter can be put back into the socket and your power can be turned on again.
  5. Electrical appliances are probably ruined and should be replaced.  Depending on how fully submerged they were, they might continue to work but it is risky.
  6. Call a professional heating and air conditioning contractor to check HVAC equipment prior to restarting it.  The circuit boards, motors, and connections may need to be replaced.

Electricity is dangerous, especially around water.   Don’t take any chances.  Get professional help after a flood to stay alert and alive.

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