Heat domes, wildfires, atmospheric rivers, floods and landslides. Over the past year, British Columbians have lived through many extreme weather events. While climate change will continue to increase the likelihood of more frequent and more severe weather, we can still take action to reduce the impacts on our lives, our communities and our work.
Annual flooding is expected in many parts of BC, especially when snow melts every spring, but the November 2021 floods emphasized the need to prepare for intense weather at any time of year. Sandbagging properties is just the beginning — there are many other ways property owners can prepare, before an emergency strikes.
4 Ways to prepare your home before flooding
1. Ready electrical appliances:
- Perform a thorough check to ensure that any electrical panels, boxes, and plugs have covers which stay closed.
- Ensure that all valves and power knobs on all appliances and systems are turned off.
- Relocate or remove smaller electrical appliances and have a licensed contractor isolate electrical circuits.
2. Secure gas appliances:
- Shut off the water leading to and from hot water tanks.
- If you remove any gas appliance, hire a licensed gas contractor to cap or seal the open end of the pipe leading from the valve to the appliance.
3. Have a plan for serious damage:
- Consider installing a Canadian-certified hard-wired surge suppressor directly to your home’s main electrical panel. (In most cases, a licensed electrical contractor is required for this type of installation.)
- Have your propane supplier remove your propane tank or ensure it is adequately anchored.
4. Be ready for an evacuation order:
- If your natural gas is supplied by Fortis BC or Pacific Northern Gas (PNG), do not shut off your natural gas.
- 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.
Post-flooding safety tips
When you return to your home after a flood, conduct your own investigation. Assess your home for any flooding damage, paying close attention to electrical and gas equipment.
Do not turn on any gas or electrical items until they have been looked at by a licensed gas or electrical contractor. If you don’t have a contractor, you can find a list of licensed contractors in BC at technicalsafetybc.ca/regulatory-resources/find-licensed-contractor.
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 before, during, and after the flood occurs will help you and your loved ones stay safe.