SERVPRO® of Palo Alto provides emergency flood damage restoration services Bay area residents can count on when flood waters cause water damage in a home or business. Available 24/7, 365 days a year, the team of certified technicians arrives in about an hour equipped with the latest restoration technology, advanced cleaning techniques, and EPA cleaning products.
The potential for electrical shock in a flood disaster is a real and present danger. Most flood deaths occur when vehicles are swept away in turbulent water, but some fatalities are caused by electrocution. Water conducts electricity, so the possibility of electrical shock is elevated whenever water and electricity are close to each other. Flood conditions make the threat of electrocution even greater.
Before floodwaters rise
Persons living in or near a high-risk flood zone can take precautions to reduce the risk well in advance of severe weather conditions. One risk-reduction strategy is the installation of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) electrical outlets. These special outlets have been a building code requirement for bathrooms for decades, but usage is not limited to the bathroom. The safety devices can be installed throughout a home at a reasonable cost and usually with no alteration. A circuit breaker in the outlet automatically trips when the plug grounds, cutting off or “interrupting” the flow of electricity.
When the risk of flooding is very high but before waters rise to dangerous levels, take a proactive approach to immediately reducing the threat of electrocution by shutting off the power to the structure.
Below is a three-step process to make the home safe should floodwaters threaten to rise.
Step #1: Locate the panel box.
Start this process by locating the panel box inside the home. It is usually hidden in a closet or pantry. The panel box houses circuit breakers for every circuit in the structure, along with the main shut-off switch.
Step #2: Shut off the power.
This process begins by flipping each individual circuit breaker.
Step #3: Turn off the main breaker.
Once the individual breakers are off, turn off the main circuit breaker. Sometimes, the breaker box is located in the basement or outside. If floodwaters have flooded the basement or engulfed the outside panel box, do not try to turn off the power. The danger of electrocution is very high. Instead, immediately contact the utility company servicing the home to request the power be shut off at the meter.
While waiting for the utility company to act, unplug all electrical devices very carefully. Relocate the devices and other important furniture, documents, and valuables to a higher location in the home. Take great care to prevent an injury when lifting items. Lift with the knees. A lighter object, if improperly lifted, can cause a back, joint, or muscle injury.
During the flood
If flooding is in process, implement the following electrical safety measures to minimize the danger of electrical shock:
- Avoid coming into contact with any electrical devices or appliances while standing in water.
- Avoid touching or operating electrical devices that are wet or moist from floodwater.
- Stay out of areas where the water level is at or above electrical outlets.
- Beware of areas where any wiring may be underwater.
Fallen power lines create a high-risk environment. If evacuation from the structure is necessary, scan the area for downed power poles or power lines. Contact with live wires or pools of water electrified by downed power lines can be fatal.
When floodwaters have receded
Just because the water is gone does not mean the risk of electrocution has de-escalated. In reality, the risk hazards are still high. Exercise caution when beginning the cleanup and restoration. Do not enter the structure until the utility company or other professional has inspected the home or business and verified the location is safe. Even if the power was turned off before the flood struck, do not turn it on without having the wiring inspected and approved by a licensed electrician. Then and only then should the circuits be re-energized.
Have water-damaged appliances been inspected by a certified technician? Moisture trapped inside an electrical device can cause major damage. Thankfully, some appliances can be refurbished and returned to duty. The homeowner should not attempt to use an appliance that has not been properly inspected and approved for use.
In case of a property damage disaster such as a flood, entrust the water damage cleanup and restoration process to SERVPRO® of Palo Alto. The SERVRPRO team is ready to serve homeowners and business owners suffering a flood damage disaster, burst pipes, fire damage, smoke damage, or mold damage.
For more information about SERVPRO of Palo Alto’s water damage restoration services in Menlo Park, CA, contact the damage restoration and cleaning company by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.