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    Water Loss Electrical Safety

    I am working on a class on how to deal with water loss situations. One section deals with electrical safety. Has anyone come across official documentation (e.g. OSHA) on how to deal with this? For example:

    1. If a building has a flooded basement, of course the best option is to remove power to the building (or at least be able to pull the meter on a smaller building if possible). However, suppose you enter a building built on a slab, it is flooded (perhaps 1 inch of water or less). You don't know if there are floor receptacles, the service it located where you have to go through water to get to it. If removing power to the building is not a practical option at the time (for whatever reason, and it would have to be a good one), is there a way to measure if any of the water is live? I experimented with non-contact voltage testers and found that you have to be very close to the power source (a foot or less) before the tester will detect voltage (in fresh water). That would mean you have to be in the water as you walk around looking for voltage. Not a safe situation. Are there testers designed for this purpose or any other ways to do this?

    2. Wearing rubber boots could help. However, I have never heard of any "rated" equipment to handle walking in water that may be energized. Therefore, is the only option is to tell the person that under no circumstance can they go into any water without disconnecting power to the building? What if it is a minor flood (just one room in a building)?

    I think you can see where I am going with this. I don't want to seem impractical, while at the same time I need to maintain a minimum standard of safety. I would like to have one set of guidelines for electricians who need to deenergize equipment so that the water loss crew can take care of the water loss situation safely. The other set of guidelines would be for non-electricians to know when to call in an electrician. Essentially, the goal is to be able to walk into a place, inspect, and turn off power in locations that are wet. If electrical equipment is found to be wet, it would certainly be deenergized before working on it. Of course even doing that has its risks since we have to assume it is live and measure it before we can consider it in an electrically safe work condition. Thanks for your help!

    #2
    Dielectric-rated boots exist. I've seen firefighters' suppliers offering them.

    It's probably best to not repeat "rubber boots could help" in public. Maybe they could, and maybe rubber gloves could help, too, but many rubber and polymer formulations are conductive, and without a voltage rating, there's no way to know. (unless maybe they're labeled with something like "static dissipative", in which case you know they're unsafe.

    Comment


      #3
      Carry a bucket of rats with you in a fiberglass boat. When you get to the flooded house, throw a rat in the water. If it dies, it's not safe. If it lives, get closer and toss in another rat. Repeat until you get close enough to the disconnect...

      If you are concerned about releasing living rats, or you only have one rat, tie a non-conductive string around a rat and re-use it.

      __________________________________________________ ____________________________
      Many people are shocked when they discover I am not a good electrician...

      I'm in California, ergo I am still stuck on the 2014 NEC... We'll get around to the 2017 code in around 2021.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Jraef View Post
        Carry a bucket of rats with you in a fiberglass boat. When you get to the flooded house, throw a rat in the water. If it dies, it's not safe. If it lives, get closer and toss in another rat. Repeat until you get close enough to the disconnect...

        If you are concerned about releasing living rats, or you only have one rat, tie a non-conductive string around a rat and re-use it.

        Carrying a little teeny CPR adapter, to facilitate re-use.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by GoldDigger View Post
          Carrying a little teeny CPR adapter, to facilitate re-use.
          Ugh. Rat mouth-to-mouth... no thanks.
          __________________________________________________ ____________________________
          Many people are shocked when they discover I am not a good electrician...

          I'm in California, ergo I am still stuck on the 2014 NEC... We'll get around to the 2017 code in around 2021.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by drcampbell View Post
            Dielectric-rated boots exist. I've seen firefighters' suppliers offering them.

            It's probably best to not repeat "rubber boots could help" in public. Maybe they could, and maybe rubber gloves could help, too, but many rubber and polymer formulations are conductive, and without a voltage rating, there's no way to know. (unless maybe they're labeled with something like "static dissipative", in which case you know they're unsafe.
            You are correct - there are voltage rated boots out there.
            https://www.70esolutions.com/salisbu...xoCM7IQAvD_BwE
            Seems like the more I dig into how to handle electrical safety in water loss situations (except for major flood events or flooded basements), the more I find that no one seems to want to come up with a standard.

            The best thing I found so far on how to measure the presence of voltage in water was Mike Holt's video. He did a really good job on this one.
            https://youtu.be/Q8YLcXRo-Go

            Thanks for your comments.

            Comment


              #7
              If going into something you know nothing about, removal of power to the facility may be your safest bet.

              Like you mentioned in OP, if there is floor outlets submerged in the water that can be a risk, but the risk is usually once you are right near them. Hard to protect yourself from something you don't know is there unless you kill power to entire facility and eliminate that risk. Probably not really a good idea to turn any power back on until the water level is lowered enough to know there is nothing submerged that is a risk, unless you can verify everything that you are energizing is above the water line.
              I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

              Comment

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