The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Beware of electric shock dangers in flooded basements

March 19, 2019 | Jodi Baker | safety, tips
water sits in floodwaters in March, 2019 in Nebraska. Flooded basement

When dealing with a flooded basement, it’s tempting to rush into cleanup mode. But it’s important to stay calm and assess the situation first. Not doing so could put you at risk of electric shock, and could even prove fatal.

Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • If you have standing water in your basement, make sure OPPD or a licensed electrician removes your home’s electrical meter from its socket. This is the only way to ensure the electricity flow to your home is cut off.
  • Don’t assume your circuit breaker will protect you. If it’s damaged by water, or is malfunctioning for some reason, it will not trip.
  • Even after your home is disconnected, do not go back inside alone. It’s best to use the “buddy system” when walking in a water-logged area, especially a flooded basement. It’s dark and may be slippery and you may need help.
  • Use a portable gas-powered generator for powering dewatering pumps when electrical safety is in question.
  • Once you can pump out the water you can assess the damage. A qualified professional will need to inspect any electrical equipment impacted by the water. The equipment will most likely need to be repaired or replaced. This includes lights, switches, outlets, motors, fuse boxes and fuses, circuit boards, wires, and cables.
  • Check with a heating/cooling contractor to see if your heating and cooling equipment can be salvaged.

If you have questions about the safety of your dwelling, contact your county’s emergency management agency.

UPDATED flood contacts

*Sarpy County requests that customers who have no access to their homes due to flooding, and who would like to apply for an electrical inspection to get a permit for reconnection, visit their website to fill out a form. 

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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. Jodi earned her degree in broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She's worked for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to sunny San Diego. She’s married with two bright and energetic children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier. She and her husband enjoy catching up on some grown-up DVR time once the kiddos are asleep.

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