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March 24,  2002

ESFI Warn Flood Victims About the Dangers of Mixing Water and Electricity

(SafetyAlerts) - As the mountain snow melt begins and flood season approaches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) are warning consumers to beware of the dangers that are present when water comes in contact with electricity. A flood can cause tragic losses to families, but to protect against the unexpected loss of life, CPSC and ESFI have some important safety advice:

Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances, such as furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers.

If electrical appliances have been under water, have them dried out and reconditioned by a qualified service repairman. Do not turn on damaged electrical appliances because the electrical parts can become grounded and pose an electric shock hazard or overheat and cause a fire.
Before flipping a switch or plugging in an appliance, have an electrician check the house wiring and appliance to make sure it is safe to use.

Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and are available at prices ranging from $12 to $30.

Electric circuit breakers and fuses can malfunction when water and silt get inside. Discard all circuit breakers, fuses, and GFCIs that have been submerged.
When using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner or a pressure washer be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid electric shock.

Do not allow the power cord connections to become wet. Do not remove or bypass the ground pin on the three-prong plug.

"As families begin to clean up following a flood, there are hidden electrical hazards throughout the home," says Michael Clendenin, executive director of the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). "Take the time to protect your family and home by making a new beginning that includes finding and fixing all electrical dangers caused by a flood."

"After the flood waters have receded, CPSC wants families to be aware that electricity has the potential to cause an even greater loss than that of personal property," says Thomas Moore, CPSC Acting Chairman. "We hope that this information helps prevent deaths and injuries during these difficult times."

For people who live in counties already declared eligible, you can contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Flood Insurance Program at (800) 427-4661.

These and other electrical safety tips are available at the Foundation's Web site at or call (703) 841-3229.

Source: CPSC

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