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Published on May 17th, 2014 | by Scott Cooney


Electricity Safety Guide 101 — Flooding Events

Flooding Electricity SafetyFlooding in your home can be a devastating experience, causing extensive damage to both property and possessions as well as psychological effects. But it is important to act quickly in any situation and, when it comes to electricity and flooding, there are several key precautions and steps to take before, during and after a flooding event. If you are at risk, it’s a good idea to consult electricity suppliers, for example Ovo Energy, which offers cheaper deals and operates across Great Britain, in advance to obtain guidance.


Before Flooding

If you are given notice of imminent flooding, for example caused by a river or stream overflowing its banks, you should turn off and unplug large appliances on the ground floor that cannot easily be moved, such as dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers. Fridges and freezers also need to be switched off, while more portable appliances, such as televisions, DVD players, computers and stereos should be moved to a higher floor. To protect the electric components of large appliances from damage caused by water and silt, wrap them securely in polyethylene film. While this won’t completely keep out water, it will protect against most of the silt.


During Flooding

If flooding is about to occur, and if it is safe, you need to switch off the electricity supply at the fuse box or isolator switch. Always follow the advice and instructions of your electricity provider if you are unsure or don’t know what to do. They may need to disconnect the electrical supply to your property.

When entering another property that has been flooded, you should always check that it is safe to enter beforehand – check that the electricity supply has been disconnected first, and certainly before touching any electrical equipment, switches or cables. You should never touch electrical equipment while you or the appliances are standing in flood water.


After Flooding

After flooding, you should only switch the electricity supply back on and use electrical appliances after a professional electrician has advised that it is safe. Call your electrical supplier for safety advice and information if required as they should be able to arrange a safety visit.

A registered electrician must be consulted to check on any damage caused to wiring and equipment. This includes portable appliances that have been affected as well as larger appliances and all exposed switches and cabling. Whether rewiring is necessary often depends on whether the flooding was due to clean water such as a burst water pipe or contaminated water such as that caused by flooding from a stream or river. Contaminated water carries toxins and sediments that are difficult to remove even with professional treatment. If there is major water damage, regardless of whether it was caused by clean or contaminated water, then rewiring will probably be required. In the case of minor damage, the cables will need to be dried out and affected components replaced. An electrician may also be able to raise the height new equipment, such as a fuse box and sockets, to minimise the risk from any future flooding.

Always think safety first. Don’t replace a fuse while standing in water and use rubber-insulated tools to reset breakers. Discard electrical equipment and components that cannot be safely dried out and repaired. Never turn on damaged electrical appliances as this can cause electrocution or start a fire. Remember, if in doubt then leave it and consult an expert.

Photo from Shutterstock. Post supported by Ovo Energy.

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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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