The heavy rainfall and severe weather across Canada and the United States this week bring with them the potential for floods, high winds and tornados but the damage may not end there. Many storm-related fatalities and injuries occur afterwards, when people assess the damage and begin repairs. CSA Group, a leader in public safety, testing and certification, offers the following safety tips to help reduce exposure to hazards inside and outside your home:
Strong Winds & Tornadoes
- Before approaching your home, check the surrounding area for hazards such as downed power lines, debris, or other dangers. Mark and report any hazards or hazardous goods to local authorities. Treat all power lines as live and never touch! Check outside the home for obvious structural faults. Do not enter if structural damage is evident or if you have doubts about the safety of the building.
- Examine the exterior of your home for gas leaks or electrical hazards. If possible, turn your gas off at the meter. If you can access your main electric box without going through standing water or entering the home, turn off the main breaker. Have qualified emergency personnel examine gas or electrical controls before turning them off at the source.
- Upon entering, slowly and carefully watch for hazards. Beware of jammed doors, sagging ceilings or floors. Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual structural noises indicating something might fall or if you smell gas.
- Do not operate gas or electrical equipment until it has been dried, cleaned and inspected. Some equipment such as hot water heaters may need to be replaced entirely if floodwaters have reached the burners, electrical parts or insulation. Replace only with certified equipment.
Before Entering a Flood Damaged Building
- If you can tell from the exterior that your home has been flooded, and can access your main electric box without going through standing water or entering the home, turn off the main breaker. If the gas or electrical controls are inside the home, turn them off only after it has been deemed safe to enter your home by qualified emergency personnel or a building inspector.
- Check outside the home for obvious structural faults. Do not enter if structural damage is evident or if you have doubts about the safety of the building.
Once Inside a Building
- If your basement remains flooded, removing water too quickly from your basement when water has pooled outside may put pressure on your home’s outer walls and significantly damage or collapse your foundation. Drain your basement slowly and carefully only when standing water outside the home is no longer visible on the ground.
- Everything that has been touched by floodwater should be cleaned and disinfected. Materials that cannot be effectively cleaned, such as carpeting, mattresses, and stuffed toys or furniture should be discarded. Remove and discard wet wallboard, drywall, gypsum and insulation. Start the drying process as soon as possible by opening all windows and doors to circulate fresh air inside the home. Use fans and dehumidifiers certified by an accredited organization, such as CSA Group, to aid in the drying process and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Using fuel-powered generators, pumps, barbecues, camping stoves, and fuel-burning equipment is dangerous in confined spaces because of the potential for carbon monoxide buildup. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, lethal gas. Never use these items indoors or in an attached garage. Using battery-operated, certified carbon monoxide alarms can alert you to dangerous levels of gases.
When using Generators and Tools
- Use generators carefully and always follow instructions, ensuring your generator is rated for the amount of electricity you will need. To prevent shock, the generator must be properly grounded. Only use generators or tools that have been tested and certified by an accredited organization, such as CSA Group, and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- To prevent fires, never refuel a generator while it’s running or still hot and keep an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby at all times. Be sure to store fuel containers outside and away from buildings or combustibles.
- Do not use electrical tools in wet locations and make sure all tools and appliances are properly grounded and double insulated. Mud or dirt in a grounded outlet may prevent the grounding system from working and lead to electrocution. If unsure about the condition of a grounded outlet, call an electrician.
For more everyday consumer tips, safety tip videos and safety advice, please visit www.csagroup.org.
About CSA Group
CSA Group is dedicated to safety, social good and sustainability. Its knowledge and expertise encompasses membership-based, not-for-profit standards development, training and research. Through its world-class commercial subsidiaries, it provides advisory solutions and global testing, inspection and certification services across key business areas including: home and commercial, industrial, healthcare and specialized markets and technologies. The CSA certification mark appears on billions of products worldwide. For more information about CSA Group visit www.csagroup.org.
Manager, Corporate Affairs