Electrical Safety Information During a Flood

On April 18, 2013, in Flood Announcements, by Dave Rogness

Many people will soon be preparing for flood conditions throughout our state. It’s important to include electrical safety in your plans and preparation. Good electrical safety planning now will not only serve you well in the event of a flood, but more importantly, could prevent serious injury to you and others helping you during a flood – maybe even save lives!

As providers of electrical inspections and electric utility service, your safety is our utmost concern, especially during floods when people are so dependent on electricity to protect their homes and property. We join together in sharing this important message on electrical safety during a flood.

Electrical systems often continue to function after being exposed to flood waters, even after being totally submerged or while submerged under flood water. This can be a very dangerous situation however, and should be avoided by all means.

If you believe your electrical system might be flooded to any extent, you should make plans to have it disconnected beforehand. At no time should you attempt to disconnect your own power, or work on any energized electrical equipment once it’s been flood damaged or even exposed to flood waters. You should never attempt to operate breakers or switches that are wet or under water, even if it’s just to turn them off. Never attempt to disconnect or remove your electric meter; call your electric utility to have this done.

Your electric utility will disconnect your electric service: a) at your request; b) if ordered to do so by a governing authority; or c) if there is an imminent threat to life. Therefore it’s important to plan ahead; take note of your electric utility contact phone numbers and allow them adequate time to safely disconnect your service.

Cass County Electric: 701-356-4666

OtterTail Power Co: 1-800-257-4044

Xcel Energy: 1-800-895-1999

If any part of your electrical service has been damaged by or exposed to flood waters, or your electric service was disconnected due to flooding, it’s important and required to have your service inspected before it can be reconnected. This inspection service is provided by the City of Fargo for its residents or by the ND State Electrical Board for all others. You can contact them directly to arrange an inspection or call your licensed electrician to arrange it for you.

City of Fargo, Inspections: 701-241-1561

ND State Electrical Board: 701-328-9522

Any repairs or replacements of flood-damaged electrical equipment or services must be done by an electrician licensed to work in North Dakota. They will work in cooperation with your electric utility to help restore your electric service safely and in compliance with all proper codes.

Floods often will damage a utility’s electrical system, too. Never go near a downed power line. Be alert to low hanging wires, submerged transformers or utility boxes in areas of high flood waters.

If your flood plans include the use of a generator, be sure it’s used safely. Use proper venting to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. If you want a generator connected to your main electrical supply, contact a licensed electrician to ensure the setup meets all electrical codes and is compatible with your power systems. Or simply plug essential equipment such as pumps or lights into the generator outlets. Never backfeed your generator into your electric service.

For additional information or assistance regarding electric safety and floods, contact your electric utility.

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