Central Alberta in the summer of 2019 has experienced higher than average rainfall, in some places double the long-term average. Be aware that an emergency situation, like flooding, may have an electrical component and take precautions for your personal safety. Whether in a flooded basement or on open land, electricity and water do not mix.

In-home flooding: If water in your basement rises to the level of electrical outlets, stay out of the area to avoid possible electrical shock or electrocution. There is a similar hazard from appliances and fixtures that are plugged in while sitting in water or whose cords are under water. Shut off the power at the main breaker, but only if you can do so without standing in water or on a wet floor. Alternatively, call your electricity provider and ensure that the power is disconnected before entering the flooded area or attempting cleanup and repairs.

Cleaning up a flooded basement has its own electrical hazards. Outlets that have been submerged must be inspected by a qualified electrician and any necessary repairs made to the home wiring system before it is safe to reconnect the power. Wet appliances and light fixtures, etc. must be discarded unless an electrician determines that they are safe to use. Once power is restored and cleanup has begun, ensure that cords and all connections to your wet vac, sump pump and other tools remain dry.

Overland flooding: Torrential rains have the capacity to cause overland flooding, disrupt travel and destroy property. An electrical hazard is present if the storm and its accompanying lightning cause damage to power structures or bring down a powerline. Floodwater and wet soil are excellent conductors, meaning that a downed powerline in a flooded area creates an extremely dangerous situation. Stay clear of the area, call 911 and notify the electricity utility. Always assume that a downed powerline is energized.

Flooding can prompt evacuation, and residents are often impatient to return to their homes. Electrical hazards can remain after floodwaters recede, as damaged electrical structures may be hidden by uprooted trees, broken branches or debris. It is important to obey evacuation orders and only return to your property when authorities give an all-clear to do so.