Minimizing flood-related hazards
Floods are common in BC and can happen at any time of year. The most severe floods usually occur in spring and early summer due to heavy rain and melting snow. They can also be caused by storm surges, ice jams or damage to structures like dikes or dams.
If you live or work in an area of the province where flooding is a high risk, be aware that there are serious gas and electrical safety implications you need to consider and prepare for. Taking the right steps to ensure your safety before, during, and after the flood occurs is as easy as following the steps outlined below.
How to prepare for a flood in your area
If you have enough advance warning and you know that floodwaters will reach your appliances, reach out to a licensed gas contractor to remove your gas appliances, as they may become damaged.
If flooding is expected and time allows:
- perform a thorough check to ensure that any electrical panels, boxes, and plugs have covers which stay closed;
- relocate or remove electrical appliances and have a licensed contractor isolate electrical circuits;
- if serious damage is expected, have your propane supplier remove your propane tank or ensure it is adequately anchored to prevent the tank from floating and being carried away by floodwaters; and
- consider installing a Canadian-certified hardwired surge suppressor directly to your home’s main electrical panel (in most cases, a licensed electrical contractor is required for this type of installation.)
Note: Any gas appliance that is removed must have the open end of the pipe leading from the valve to the appliance capped or sealed. This work needs to be performed by a licensed gas contractor.
In the event of a severe flood that requires you to evacuate your home or business, there are additional steps you may need to take. If you don’t have a flood plan in place, consult the PreparedBC emergency plan website.
If your natural gas is supplied by Fortis BC or Pacific Northern Gas (PNG), do not shut off your natural gas if you receive an evacuation order. If gas is provided by propane or other utility providers, shut off the main gas supply upstream of the gas meter or at the propane tank or cylinder.
If you are asked to evacuate:
- ensure that all valves and power knobs on all appliances and systems are turned off;
- shut off the water leading to and from hot water tanks; and
- secure propane tanks to a stable structure.
Returning home after a flood
Before returning to your home or business, wait until the area of occupancy and contents have been declared safe by the proper authorities.
Once you have been allowed to return:
- conduct a thorough investigation of your home to assess the damage, paying close attention to electrical and gas equipment which may have been exposed to floodwaters. Do not turn on these items until they have been looked at by a licensed gas or electrical contractor; and
- if your power has been turned off, contact your power and/or gas supplier (e.g., BC Hydro, Fortis BC, etc.) to have it turned back on.