Disaster response isn’t always straightforward. Among the less obvious risks to consider during a water emergency is the potential for damage or injury caused by compromised electrical systems and components. From electrical fires to electric shock and even death, the dangers associated with live electricity during and following a flood should be taken seriously.
While any disaster can introduce electrical safety hazards, the mixture of water and electricity is notoriously potent. Whether due to a natural flood event or a water leak in your home or commercial building, any flooding incident requires specific electrical safety precautions. Read the electrical safety tips from ServiceMaster Restore to protect your people and property before and after a flood.
Electrical Safety During a Flood
Among all the risks posed by flooding, the dangers associated with your electrical system are some of the most severe. It’s critically important to treat all electrical appliances, equipment, and outlets with caution. Keep these electrical safety tips in mind whenever you’re dealing with an active flooding situation:
- Never step in standing water that covers electrical outlets or devices – the water could already be charged with a lethal amount of electric current.
- If you see downed power lines, avoid them, and notify your local power provider immediately.
- Avoid any areas where you see sparks or hear popping or buzzing noises.
- Be on alert for an acrid or "burning plastic" smell, which could indicate an electrical fire.
- Do not attempt to operate electrical equipment or appliances that have come into contact with water until a certified electrician says it’s safe.
- Follow all the electrical safety precautions from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).
Electrical Safety After a Flood
In addition to mold, bacteria and structural weaknesses that can result from prolonged exposure to lingering water, your electrical system and components remain vulnerable as long as moisture is present. Beyond the lingering risk of electric shock or electrical fires, rust and corrosion from excess water can damage these elements beyond repair.
After any flooding event, you should consult a certified electrician or inspector to determine the extent of damage to your electrical system. You may have to replace a number of components, such as:
- Wiring, circuitry, switches and outlets
- HVAC equipment and water heaters
- Major appliances, especially anything with a motor
Once the electrical hazards are contained, contact a team of water mitigation professionals who can safely assess the extent of the water damage and create a plan to restore your home or business to normal as soon as possible.
Electrical Fire Safety Inspections and Awareness
Of course, the need to observe safe practices around electrical systems isn’t limited to disaster situations. Watch our short video to learn how to reduce the electrical fire safety risks at your home or business right now.
The electrical systems and equipment in your building are complex, powerful and potentially dangerous. Although the risks increase with floods and other water disasters, electrical malfunctions and emergencies can occur at any time. Follow the electrical safety tips from ServiceMaster Restore to keep yourself and others safe.