FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine - For those who've fallen victim to this year's flooding in, there's more than just water to worry about. Vince Baldwin, chief of the Fort Fairfield Fire Department, says there's an invisible danger potentially awaiting anyone affected by flooding. He says electrical hazards can lead to fires and even death if not handled properly.
"One of our concerns is when someone enters a basement that they could be electrocuted from either an appliance that is submersed in water or going to shut their breaker panel off while they're standing in water."
Shutting off the power is a priority but needs to be done properly to ensure no one gets hurt.
"If a homeowner notices they have a flooded basement, they should always use caution," said Baldwin. "If you can safely get to your breaker panel upstairs or not standing in water and shutting off the power, that's the first way to do it. The next way, if you cannot access your breaker panel or if you feel unsafe, what you need to do is contact your local utility company to come and pull the meter and to make the home safe, so you can access the water safely."
Baldwin says his department receives several calls annually, be it for broken pipes, groundwater or flooding. He says fire departments will respond to inspect for fire hazards but homeowners will need to hire a plumber to remove water.
"Whether your power comes from underground, or whether it comes from above from your electrical mass, if you have water anywhere near an electrical appliance, outlets, or even your service drop coming into your home, you need to be careful."
Exterior flooding, as well as interior, is always a potential hazard. Baldwin says it's important to always be cautious around water when it comes to electrical appliances or any electricity, noting 'when in doubt, contact your local fire department.'