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Gas and electrical equipment safety in floods

BC Safety Authority

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| Source: British Columbia Safety Authority

NEW WESTMINSTER, British Columbia, March 14, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Recent, unseasonably high temperatures have many areas of the province preparing for higher than usual water levels and potential flooding. There are serious gas and electrical safety implications to consider if you are living or working in an area experiencing flooding. BC Safety Authority (BCSA) reminds homeowners and businesses to take precautions with gas and electrical appliances when flooding is expected.

"Electrical equipment and gas appliances exposed to flood waters can be dangerous if they are re-energized and used without being properly inspected by a licensed contractor," says Wayne Lock, Acting Director of Technical Programs for BC Safety Authority.

"Moisture, debris and contaminants in flood-damaged equipment or appliances can sometimes be hidden and cause serious risks," adds Lock.

If electrical, gas or heating equipment is subjected to flooding it may become damaged, making it inoperable or unsafe. It is important to have the area of occupancy declared safe to enter by the proper authorities. It is also important that the requirements of other health & safety protocols have also been met.

If flooding is expected and time allows, do the following:

  • Have a licensed gas contractor remove gas equipment and systems.
  • Have a licensed gas contractor cap the gas pipe leading to appliances.
  • Relocate or remove electrical appliances and have a licensed contractor isolate electrical circuits
  • Secure propane tanks to a stable structure to keep them from floating away.
  • Shut off the main gas and electrical supply.

If there is no advance warning of flooding or a licensed contractor is unavailable:

  • Shut off the main gas and electrical supply.
  • Ensure that all valves and power knobs on all appliances and systems are turned off.
  • Shut off the water leading to and from hot water tanks.
  • Secure propane tanks to a stable structure.

Extreme precautions must be taken when returning to a flood-damaged area. BCSA encourages property owners to do the following in flood situations:

  • If you smell natural or propane gas, leave the area immediately and call your gas utility.
  • Natural and propane gas smell like rotten eggs.
  • If the main power and gas supply are still turned on, shut them off and do not step on a wet area if you must touch the main electrical panel.
  • Do not plug in or turn on any flood-damaged appliance or system. Call licensed gas and electrical contractors to do an inspection first.
  • Have a licensed gas contractor reconnect any gas system that was removed.
  • If your property has been subject to flooding, and has had the power disconnected, retain the services of a licensed contractor to verify that electrical and gas equipment, systems and installations are safe to re-energize. (BC Hydro will reconnect free of charge when contacted by a licensed contractor.)
  • If repairs are required to restore power, the repairs need to be performed by a certified contractor under an installation permit.
  • If your property was subjected to flooding, but no longer has standing water inside the dwelling, it is recommended that a licensed contractor be retained to check the electrical installation to ensure the re-energized system will not cause future unsafe hazards or risks.

Please read the requirements to restore electrical and gas service after a flooding incident available in BC Safety Authority's Information Bulletin on Emergency Post Flood Protocol for Re-Energizing Electrical and Gas: http://safetyauthority.ca/news/media-releases/gas-and-electrical-equipment-safety-floods-0.

BC Safety Authority is an independent, self-funded organization mandated to oversee the safe installation and operation of technical systems and equipment. In addition to issuing permits,
licences and certificates, we work with industry to reduce safety risks through assessment, education and outreach, enforcement, and research.
 
For more information about gas and electrical safety, permits and licensed contractors please visit BC Safety Authority's website at: www.safetyauthority.ca or contact your local BCSA office.
 
Additional media resources, including audio files are available at: http://safetyauthority.ca/news/media-releases/gas-and-electrical-equipment-safety-floods-0
 
For information about disaster financial assistance, contact Emergency Management BC: http://pep.bc.ca/dfa_claims/dfa.html

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BC Safety Authority
778-396-2164