Safety Tips for Flood Victims: Safety Alert
CPSC Document# 5035
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends several safety tips to the victims of flood. This safety alert illustrates some dangerous practices which consumers may be tempted to engage in during efforts to rebuild or while staying in temporary housing, tents or partially damaged homes. This information is provided in an effort to prevent injuries and deaths from consumer products as flood survivors make new beginnings. "We hope this information helps prevent product related injuries and deaths during these difficult times."
Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet.
Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances, such as boilers, 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.
Electricity and water don't mix.
Use a ground -fault circuit - interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electric shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and are available at prices ranging from $12 to #30.
Types of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Include:
When using a "wet-dry vacuum cleaner" 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 a three prone plug. Use a GFCI to prevent electrocution.
Never remove or bypass the ground pin on a three-pronged plug in order to insert it into a non-grounding outlet.
Never allow the connection between the machine's power cord and the three-wire grounded extension cord to lie in water.
To prevent a gas explosion and fire, have gas appliances (natural gas and LP gas) inspected after flooding.
If gas appliances have been under water, have them inspected and cleaned and their gas controls replaced. A qualified repair person should do the work. Water can damage gas controls so that safety features are blocked, even if the gas controls appear to operate properly. If you suspect a gas leak, don't light a match, use any electrical appliances, turn lights on or off, or use the phone. These may produce sparks. Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or hear gas escaping, turn the main valve off. Open windows, leave the area immediately, and call the gas company or qualified appliance repair person. Never store flammable materials near any gas appliance or equipment.
Check to make sure your smoke detector is functioning.
Smoke detectors can save your life in a fire. Check the battery frequently to make sure it is operating. Fire extinguishers also are a good idea.
Candles, matches and lighters can start fires.
Never leave a burning candle unattended because it can tip over and start a fire. Keep candles, matches, and lighters away from children at all times.
Wet carpets and other furnishings can lead to the growth of biological pollutants.
Bacteria, fungi, and dust mites can grow on wet surfaces. If furnishings have been under water, they must be thrown out or steam-cleaned and dried thoroughly.
Since 1984, over 200 infants and toddlers have drowned in 5-gallon buckets.
Buckets containing even small amounts of water or other liquids can be drowning hazards. A 5 gallon bucket presents the greatest danger to a small child because it doesn't tip over when a child leans into it. Never leave any bucket of water unattended where small children may fall in. Immediately empty buckets when finished or move to a safe place before taking a break. In addition, keep young children away from bathtubs and other open containers used for temporary water storage.
Burning charcoal gives off carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide has no odor and can kill you. Never burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, cars, garages, or mobile homes.
Gasoline is made to explode!
Never use gasoline around ignition sources such as cigarettes, matches, lighters, water heaters, or electric sparks. Gasoline vapors can travel and be ignited by pilot light or other ignition sources. Make sure gasoline powered generators are away from easily combustible materials.