Flood stage

Courier file photo

OTTUMWA — Presumably, during a flood, you're going to be busy. So you MidAmerican Energy sent out electrical safety tips before the water rises.

The National Weather Service named this Flood Safety Awareness Week.They report floods as the most common natural disaster in the United States.

Though people can lose their lives in floods, property damage to homes, businesses and irreplaceable belongings is more frequent. Electric and gas utilities are at risk, too. 

MidAmerican Energy Company sent a release this week to help prepare against potential spring floods.

“When it comes to flooding, two things cause concern for MidAmerican Energy: the damage that flooding can cause to equipment and the chance we’ll lose access to a property to disconnect services as water rises,” said Jerry Hempel, general manager of gas operations.

Know the risks: Seasonal floods, flash flooding and isolated home flooding events can impair the safe operation of natural gas equipment and appliances. When outlets or cords are submerged, water can cause electrocution and fires. Only a few inches of water in a basement or around a structure can cause risks. Unplug and move appliances to a higher level, but do not approach or unplug equipment if the floor is already wet.

If gas and electric services are turned off in time, risks of shock, natural gas leaks and property damage fall significantly, their release says.

 “Customers should call before water is threatening their homes,” said Tom Wilson, general manager of electric operations. “MidAmerican Energy does not charge customers for shutting off or restarting service when there is flooding. It keeps customers and their homes safe, and helps us avoid major issues.”

If your home is threatened by water, contact your utility provider. Before flooding, know who provides your power. 

After a flood, in the excitement of getting home, remember there will still be risks.

“Once the water recedes, property owners should have walls, meters and appliances inspected by a professional. Water-damaged equipment must be replaced,” Hempel said.

When first going back home, be aware electric lines and natural gas pipelines can be hiding in water that has flooded a building.

Do not enter an area when water is covering electrical outlets, or if you detect snapping, humming or natural gas. Call 911 and your power company.

— Compiled from a release by MidAmercan Energy.