Electrical Hazards in Flood-Affected Areas

When flood water makes contact with electrical systems it can lead to an increased risk of electric shock, possibly resulting in serious injury or death.

In the event of a flood, please follow these important steps:

  • Do not enter your basement or outbuildings: High water levels can often rise above the level of electrical outlets and panels, and electrically powered equipment such as baseboard heaters and furnaces. Electricity is capable of moving through water or wet flooring, resulting in exposure to severe electrical shock.
  • Call Hydro Ottawa: You should request that we disconnect your electricity if flood water has made contact with any electrical outlets or panels, or any electrically powered equipment on your property.
    • Hydro Ottawa will waive our connect/disconnect fees for anyone impacted by flooding. Please contact us at 613 738-6400 to make arrangements.
  • Watch out for damaged power lines: Keep a distance of 10 metres or the length of a school bus, call 911 and report the damage to Hydro Ottawa.

If using sump pumps or other water-pumping devices:

  • Sump pumps and water-pumping devices are commonly found in residential basements to remove accumulated water during floods.
  • Always keep electrical connections for portable water pumps and sump pumps away from areas which may become wet. This also applies to extension cords.
  • These devices can increase the risk of electric shock when used in wet or humid areas, leading to serious injury or death.
  • These devices should be always be used with a differential circuit breaker, also known as a ground fault circuit interrupter. This is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person.
  • Avoid walking through a wet or flooded basement. If you are aware of the presence of a sump pump or other water-pumping device in a flooded area which does not have a ground fault circuit interrupter, avoid the area completely.
  • Do not enter the area until Hydro Ottawa has disconnected your electricity and has declared the area safe to enter. 
    • Hydro Ottawa will waive our connect/disconnect fees for anyone impacted by flooding. Please contact us at 613 738-6400 to make arrangements.

If there is an evacuation:

  • Before leaving your home and if there is no flood water in your basement: Move electrical devices out of your home or away from any area in the house which may be affected by flood water. Do not use any of these appliances if they have been in contact with flood water.
  • Watch out for damaged power lines: Keep a distance of 10 metres or the length of a school bus, call 911 and report the damage to Hydro Ottawa.

Dealing with water-damaged electrical systems:

  • Evaluate your home to ensure reconnection is safe: If water in your basement has risen above the electrical outlets, baseboard heaters, furnace or electrical panel, DO NOT enter the basement until the power has been disconnected by the local electric utility.
    • Hydro Ottawa will waive our connect/disconnect fees for anyone impacted by flooding. Please contact us at 613 738-6400 to make arrangements.
  • Reconnection of electricity: Hydro Ottawa will not restore power to your home until necessary repairs have been made. The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) recommends having a Licensed Electrical Contractor do the evaluation and repairs.
  • When the Licensed Electrical Contractor comes: They will file for an electrical permit with the ESA to maintain a record of any work. When they have completed the repairs, they will notify the ESA and an inspector will come to observe them. Upon confirmation from the ESA, your utility will restore power when possible.
  • Always make sure to obtain a copy of the ESA’s Certificate of Inspection from the contractor for your records and insurance.

For more information, contact:

THE ELECTRICAL SAFETY AUTHORITY
1-877-372-7233
www.esasafe.com