How to stay safe when it floods

As the floodwaters stop rising and the rain clears, you take a sigh of relief. Your family is safe, and that's what matters. Now, it's time to assess the damage.

Unfortunately, floods cause around $8 billion in damage across the United States every year. During flooding, you probably think about keeping your family safe from the inherent dangers, but what about the aftermath?

You need to exercise caution when you return home as underlying electrical threats can harm you or your loved ones. Keep reading for electrical safety tips you should consider during a flood. 

Why does water conduct electricity?

You've probably heard that water and electricity don't mix well, especially when a person or animal comes in contact with it.

Water, in its purest form (deionized and distilled), is an excellent insulator. However, water is typically full of dissolved substances that contain free ions. These positive and negative ions conduct electricity through the water, making it potentially dangerous.

If you touch an electrified surface while wet or step into electrified water, a current will travel through your body, causing shock or electrocution. To avoid these dangers, check out these tips to stay safe.

Indoor flooding electrical safety tips

Once you begin assessing the damage to your home after a flood, you need to exercise caution to stay safe. Here are four rules you should follow to keep your family safe after a flood:

  1. Watch out for flooded basement electrical hazards. Don't enter any area where floodwaters are above electrical outlets, baseboard heaters, furnaces, or other appliances. While your home may not have power after it's flooded, electricity may still be flowing through the outlets and other electrical components. These currents can energize standing water.
  2. Don't touch your home's breaker box if you are wet or you have to stand in water. Contact your utility if you can't safely reach your breaker box to shut off power to your home.
  3. Call your electric cooperative to turn off the power to your home. The best way to ensure a flooded basement doesn't have electricity is to contact your electric cooperative to disconnect your home from the grid.
  4. Don't use any appliance or equipment that was submerged in water. Once your home is clear of floodwaters, have a professional assess any electrical equipment you plan to use. Most electrical appliances are dangerous to use or inoperable after being submerged and should be disposed of as soon as possible.

Outdoor flooding electrical safety tips

Always be aware of downed or submerged power lines. Strong winds or high floodwaters can cause power lines to fall or become submerged. As a general rule, don't step into water that may have a submerged power line. To learn more about downed power line safety, read our safety tips blog or listen to our podcast about vehicle crashes with power lines.

Your local electric cooperative: Just a call away

If your home is flooded, never enter any water that is above electrical outlets or wiring. Always follow advice from your local electric cooperative. Follow them on social media or check their website for updates on outage situations after a natural disaster. If your home is flooded, call them for more information on electrical safety.

Learn more safety tips.