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Ameren Illinois Utilities Warn Boaters in Flooded Areas To Be Aware of Electrical Dangers

PEORIA, Ill., June 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Flood waters pose a special hazard to boaters in flooded areas, the Ameren Illinois Utilities warned.

Boaters need to exercise extreme caution when moving through areas that have overhead electrical lines because boaters risk serious injury or death if they come into contact with energized lines.

Typically, electric distribution lines are at least 18 feet above dry ground. However, in flooded areas those lines may only be several feet above the water, posing a serious risk to boaters who attempt to pass under wires.

The Ameren Illinois Utilities urge boaters to be aware of overhead electrical distribution lines and to make certain they have ample clearance when passing under lines.

"Due to the widespread and ongoing flood response activity across our Illinois service territory, our Emergency Operations Center continues to manage the coordination of our activities," said Bill Prebil, Ameren Illinois Utilities vice president of Regional Operations. "The Emergency Operations Center will continue in service until the floods have receded."

"Our coworkers have been extremely busy in the flooded areas along the Mississippi River and in southeastern Illinois. We have been working with state and local officials and our customers to deal with the impact of flooding on electrical and natural gas service," said Ron Pate, Ameren Illinois Utilities vice president of Regional Operations.

Electric safety advice

When water comes into contact with energized electrical wiring, appliances and other devices, it creates a serious 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. Be especially careful around sump pumps.

-- 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 Utilities (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. If the odor persists, call your Ameren Illinois Utilities Company.

Disconnection of service

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 Utilities company 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 threaten to reach the controls of a natural gas furnace, water heater or other appliance (generally, the controls are located at the bottom the appliance) or the gas meter, contact your Ameren Illinois Utilities company to have your natural gas service turned off. The Ameren Illinois Utilities will proactively remove natural gas meters when it is apparent they will be covered by flood water and also at the request of local authorities.

After the flood

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.

-- Before natural gas service can be restored, customers will need to have a professional service person 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 Utilities company 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 (http://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.

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

CONTACT: Leigh Morris, +1-217-535-5228, or Neal Johnson,
+1-309-677-5284, both for Ameren Illinois Utilities

Web site: http://www.ameren.com/