It’s raining and the weather man says its going to continue raining.
While the heavy rainfall is great for greener lawns and free car washes, the excess water can compromise our electrical systems especially in the event of a basement flood. There is a heightened risk of electric shock when water makes contact with your electrical systems. This shock can seriously injure or kill you.
According to the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), there are certain precautions that all homeowners must take in the event of a basement flood:
Disconnect the power to your home with dry hands, by ensuring that the main switch by your electrical panel is left in the “off” position before you go.
Move electrical appliances and devices out of your home or to an area in the house above the expected level of flood water. Do not attempt to use these products if they have made contact with flood water.
Watch out for downed power lines in flood-affected areas. If you see one, stay back 10 meters or the length of a school bus and call 9-1-1 and your local electric utility to report it.
“Maybe electrical shock or electrocution is not the first thing we think of when dealing with a flooded basement, room or even an outdoor area,” says John Flanagan, Vice President of Birnie Electric and Birnie HOME SAFE, “…but it’s the most important thing you should consider before you step foot in these flooded areas.”
Flanagan, a licensed electrician himself, further explains that electrical equipment and wiring that is exposed to water may be hazardous if re-energized without proper evaluation or replacement by a licensed electrical contractor (LEC).
“If your outlets, for example, have been exposed to water and you touch one, or you try to plug something into one, that current can travel through your body and cause life threatening injury,” he says.
In other words, anyone who enters a flooded area can become the path of least resistance – an easier route for the electrical current to travel.
But it’s not just the dangerous shock that you should be worried about. The minerals in the flood water can compromise your home’s electrical. These minerals create a chemical reaction with the copper or aluminum systems in your home which results in corrosion, deterioration and mineral deposits to get embedded into the wire. All of these side effects can create more resistance in the circuit which heightens the fire risk.
Birnie HOME SAFE, a division of Birnie Electric, has serviced hundreds of homes and made countless house calls after heavy rainfalls. The LEC urges everyone to exercise caution when dealing with a flooded basement:
Flood Safety Tips:
1. Do not step into a flooded basement, or room, if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances or cords, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
2. Do not use an electric shop vacuum in a flooded area
3. Do not touch circuit breakers, or attempt to turn off power, if you must stand in water to do so. Call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
4. Do not use electric appliances or touch electric wires, switches or fuses when you’re wet or when you’re standing in water.
5. Always keep electric tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from wet surfaces.
6. After a flood, always call a licensed electrical contractor to assess your electrical system and advise if your appliances and devices need to be replaced.
“A good safety measure is to have ground fault circuit interprets (GFCIs), installed by an LEC in your home. This can be done at the outlet or at the panel,” Flanagan says. A GFCI is a safety device that immediately shuts off power in the presence of water.
The heavy rainfall is expected to linger throughout the day so keep your umbrella handy and keep an eye on your basements.
To request a no-fee preliminary assessment, click here.