Consider Electrical Safety when Preparing for Floods

The Queensland floods of 2010 -11 and more recent heavy storms in Brisbane have turned the spotlight on flood safety. One of the most important aspects of preparing for floods is being aware of the importance of electrical safety, as water and electricity is usually not a great combination! Water that gets into your home can damage electrical connections and wires, and cause electrocution hazards. Lightning can interfere with your electrical systems, and a particularly severe storm can damage power lines and endanger whole neighbourhoods.

Evacuation Plan

Before you even think about the very important step of preparing your home for a flood emergency, you need to sort out your evacuation plan. Your whole family should know the evacuation plan inside out, meaning they should know exactly what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency, and how to respond to different emergency situations. For updates about emergency situations, your local ABC radio station is the best source of information. You should also have an emergency kit ready, which should include items such as a flashlight, first aid kit, battery-operated radio, spare batteries, waterproof shoes, rubber gloves, medication, and a dry wooden stick to flip circuit breakers and fuses, and unplug cords.

Switching your circuit breakers off protects electrical devices, such as appliances or computers, from being damaged by a power surge. During a severe storm, it’s best to turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, but only if it is safe to do so. Don’t do it if you have to walk through water to access the fuse box.

Preparing for a Flood

Electrical safety is one of the key considerations of flood preparation, both in terms of general home maintenance, and preparing for an imminent severe weather event. It’s a good idea to consult an electrician; Brisbane residents, or anyone else who lives in Queensland, might benefit from some expert advice when it comes to preparing for floods. All homes should have a safety switch installed by a licensed electrician, and have the switch routinely checked. In fact, all electrical equipment should be routinely checked to ensure it is in good working order.

If you do live in a flood-prone area, you should consider having power points installed high up above floor level, to reduce the danger of significant water damage. You should also think about whether you might need to install a larger sump pump, or add a battery backup.

What to do if a Flood is on its Way

If weather warnings are indicating a serious flood is heading for your home, then you need to act immediately. Try not to panic, because you are more likely to forget things if you panic. Disconnect all your electrical appliances and turn your electricity supply off, if recommended by emergency services. Larger appliances such as washing machines should be moved to a higher level if possible.

As with all emergencies, the key to reducing the impact is to be prepared. For advice on how to prepare for a flood and other severe weather events, check out the Queensland Government’s Department of Community Safety page.