Customers who have lost power due to flooding in portions of the Ameren Illinois service territory are urged to take safety precautions to prevent accidents or injury. Wading in deep water in basements to remove items or operate pumping systems poses a major safety risk. Ameren Illinois is reminding customers to never enter a flooded basement or other flooded areas where water may be in contact with electrical wiring, appliances and other devices.
"Water and electricity do not mix," said Ron Pate, senior vice president of Operations and Technical Services, Ameren Illinois. "Customers must be vigilant in ensuring that when handling electric powered devices that they are not in contact with any water."
In addition, flooding and deep water in basements can extinguish pilot lights in homes. "Most appliances have an automatic shut off, but we urge natural gas customers to call us so we can temporarily interrupt the natural gas service by shutting off the meter," said Pate. Disconnecting natural gas service is a safety precaution and will allow for a safer restoration once the water subsides.
Ameren Illinois offers the following tips on flooding safety:
Natural gas safety advice:
If you detect a natural gas odor, immediately leave your home or business and call Ameren Illinois Customer Service at 1-800-755-5000. Do not turn lights on or off, operate any electrical device, use a phone or light a match inside or near the building.
Electrical safety advice:
When water comes into contact with energized electrical wiring, appliances and other devices, it creates a major threat of serious injury and electrocution.
• Never enter a flooded basement or other flooded area where water may be in contact with electrical wiring, appliances and other devices.
• Never attempt to turn off power at the main electrical panel box if you must stand in water or on a wet floor to do so.
• Never use electrical appliances or devices or touch electrical switches, outlets or cords if you are standing in water or are on a wet surface, or even if you are wet or the device is wet.
• Keep electric-powered tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from water and wet surfaces.
• In the event of flooding, Ameren Illinois will turn off electrical power to a home or business at the request of a customer. Contact Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 to have the power turned off when flood waters are likely to reach the main electrical panel box. Ameren Illinois also will turn power off at the request of local authorities.
Ameren Illinois recommends that customers take these actions after a flood:
• Before touching or unplugging electrical appliances or devices that have been in contact with water, turn off the circuit that feeds the appliance or have the power to the building disconnected.
• If you have any doubts about the safety of your home or business electrical system, have it inspected by a professional electrician.
• Have a professional service person inspect an air conditioner, furnace, water heater and any other electrical or natural gas appliance or device that was entirely or partially submerged to determine if it can be used, requires repairs or must be replaced
• If electrical or natural gas service has been turned off, contact Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 to have it turned on once the electrical and natural gas systems have been determined by a service professional to be safe.
Ameren Illinois is also prepared to set up mobile substations on higher ground in towns affected by flooding. Mobile substations sit on flatbed trailers and are used in emergency outage situations. Should a breach occur, the company can quickly de-energize the town's substation and safely switch to the mobile substation to avoid any long-term power outages due to flooding. Ameren Illinois has three mobile substations in the Metro-East area and 17 overall throughout its service territory.
Additional flood safety information is available SafeElectricity.org. Additional flood recovery information is available from the University of Illinois Extension at web.extension.illinois.edu/disaster/.
About Ameren Illinois
Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 816,000 natural gas customers in Illinois, and our mission is to power the quality of life. Our service area covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com or find us on Twitter @AmerenIllinois.