Did you know that according to the National Weather Service, our region is one of the most flashflood prone areas in the U.S? As floodwaters rise, so do the chances of electrical injury in your home as well as outside.
So what should you do in case the worst happens?
Be ready to take action.
• If your area is prone to floods, be aware of weather reports and flood warnings so you have time to leave your home and the area while it’s still possible.
• Create and have ready a “grab and go” kit that includes cash as well as all critical papers, such as insurance policies, birth certificates, wills, home inventories, etc. Seal them in waterproof plastic bags and store in a portable, fireproof and waterproof box or waterproof backpack. Find a detailed list of items to have ready at Texas A&M AgriLife’s Disaster Education Network site.
Once flooding begins, remember: water and electricity don’t mix—ever!
• If water is rising and getting into your home, prevent electrical accidents by turning off your home’s electric power at the main breaker box as long as it is safe. Never attempt to turn it off if you must stand in water to do so. If you can’t reach your breaker box safely, call GVEC to shut off power at the meter.
• If you’re wet or standing in water, never use electric appliances or touch electric wires, switches or fuses.
• Never step into a flooded basement or other room if water could be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances, wires or cords.
• If you are instructed by authorities to evacuate, turn o your electricity at the main breaker box, only if it is safe to do so before leaving. (For other utilities such as water and gas, be prepared by contacting those companies before an emergency happens for their instructions.)
• If you go outside during a storm, be aware of downed lines and poles that could be energized. Don’t go near or touch any electrical equipment.
After a storm, you still need to be mindful of electrical hazards.
• When outside, assume all downed lines are energized, even if they aren’t sparking or making noise. Be aware that lines may be hidden by obstructions such as tree limbs or other debris.
• If you come across a downed line, warn others to stay away and call 911 or GVEC immediately to report the problem. Don’t drive over downed lines or through water that may be in contact with energized lines. Same goes for touching objects in contact with lines or water. Flood waters should be considered a conductor of electricity.
• When cleaning up, stay away from wet surfaces if using electric equipment and power tools.
• For your protection against possible shocks, make sure all electric tools and equipment are plugged into GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters).
• Due to flood waters, it may be necessary to replace electric appliances that have been partially submerged. The water and mud residue will affect the usability of that appliance, so don’t use them until they are checked out by a licensed electrician or professional repairman.
• If you use a portable generator, be sure it has a safety transfer switch that has been professionally installed or connect appliances directly to the generator. This prevents backfeed, which is when electricity travels from your home, back to power lines. Backfeed is dangerous and life threatening for you and line crews who are working to restore power.
• Before re-entering storm damaged buildings or rooms, be sure all electric and gas services are turned off. Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so; call GVEC to disconnect power at the meter. Visit our Breaker Box Basics blog post to learn more about breaker safety.