The threat of flooding in much of Illinois means that residents must be aware of the electrical hazards and natural gas safety issues that can occur during floods, according to the Ameren Illinois Utilities.
When water comes into contact with energized electrical wiring, appliances and other devices, it creates a serious threat of serious injury and electrocution.
The Ameren Illinois Utilities offer these key electric safety tips:
• Never enter a flooded basement or other flooded area where water may be in contact with electrical wiring, appliances and other devices.
• Under no circumstances should you attempt to turn off power at the main electrical panel box if you must stand in water or even on a wet floor to do so.
• Furthermore, never operate electrical appliances or devices or touch electrical switches, outlets or cords if you are standing in water or are on a wet surface, or if you are wet.
• Keep all electric-powered tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from water and wet surfaces. Do not use electric tools and equipment outdoors if the ground is wet.
Natural gas safety tips:
• If you detect a strong odor of natural gas, immediately leave your home or business and call your Ameren Illinois Utility (AmerenCILCO – 1-888-672-5252; AmerenCIPS – 1-888-789-2477; AmerenIP – 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.
• If you detect a faint odor of natural gas, attempt to follow the odor to its source. It may be an extinguished pilot light or a partially turned on burner valve. These are problems you can safely and easily fix.
In the event of flooding, the Ameren Illinois Utilities will turn off electrical power to a home or business at the request of a customer. Customers should contact their Ameren Illinois Utility to have the power turned off when flood waters are likely to reach the main electrical panel box. The Ameren Illinois Utilities also will turn power off at the request of local authorities.
If flood waters reach the controls of a natural gas furnace, water heater or other appliance (generally, the controls are located at the bottom the appliance), contact your Ameren Illinois Utility to have your natural gas service turned off. The Ameren Illinois Utilities also will turn off natural gas service at the request of local authorities.
The Ameren Illinois Utilities recommend following these tips after a flood:
• If an electrical appliance has been in contact with water, have a professional electrician or appliance repair person check it first. Often, appliances must be repaired or replaced.
• If you have any doubts about the safety of your home or business electrical system, have it inspected by a professional electrician.
• Call in a professional service person to inspect a furnace, water heater and any other natural gas appliance that was entirely or partially submerged.
• If your electrical or natural gas service was turned off, contact your Ameren Illinois Utility to have it turned on after you have made certain your electrical and natural gas systems are safe to use. Never attempt to turn services on yourself.
Additional safety information is available on the Ameren Web site (www.ameren.com). The Ameren Illinois utilities serve 1.2 million electric and more than 840,000 natural gas customers in a 43,700-square-mile area of Illinois.
CONTACT: Leigh Morris, 217.535.5228 or Neal Johnson, 309.677.5284, both of Ameren