When you think of natural disasters in Michigan, what comes to mind? Tornadoes? Wildfires? Floods? While we don’t have the earthquake risk of California or the hurricane risk of Florida, that doesn’t make us exempt from potentially devastating natural disasters. One of the most common natural disasters that occur in the Great Lakes State will probably not be a big surprise – flooding. And while many of us may not have been impacted by a flood, it’s always best to be prepared. Especially when flooding is the most common, costly and deadly natural disaster in the United States. 

One of the most recent and devastating floods in Michigan happened just a few years ago in Sanford after the Edenville and Sandford dams failed. But it doesn’t take an extreme situation like the dam  failure to cause significant damage to your vehicle and put your personal safety at risk. In fact, as little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle – and it can be swept away in two feet of water, so it is always best to turn around if you come across a flooded street.  

Water and Electricity Don’t Mix 

On average, floods are the deadliest natural disaster in the U.S. While most of those deaths are vehicle related, some are due to electrocutions. Anytime water and electricity are in close proximity, the risk of electric shock is extremely high.  

If your home is at risk of flooding and you’re planning to evacuate it’s important to turn off the power in your home as a precaution. You can do this by turning off individual circuit breakers in the panel box as well as the main shut-off switch.  

If your panel box is in the basement which is already holding water, do not turn the power off yourself. Contact your energy provider to have them shut the power off at the meter. In the meantime, unplug all electrical devices in other (dry) areas of the house and move them to higher locations.  

Keep these important safety tips in mind: 

  • Do not touch any electrical devices or appliances while standing in water. 
  • Do not enter any area where water has risen above the electric outlets. 
  • Be aware of areas where any wiring may be underwater. 
  • If you are outdoors, be aware of downed powerlines, stay 25 feet away and report the powerline to 911 and your energy provider. 

When returning home after a flood, remember:

  • If you did not turn your power off before leaving, use caution when turning it off upon reentry. 
  • If you have standing water in your home and can turn off the main power from a dry location, then turn off the power. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off. 
  • If your power is off, have your wiring checked and re-energized by a licensed electrician.  
  • You should also have an electrician verify appliances are deemed safe before resuming use.  
  • Use fans, air conditioning units and dehumidifiers for drying. 
  • During cleanup, wear rubber boots and plastic gloves and an N-95 mask to protect yourself from mold and other possible floodwater contaminations.  

Sometimes flooding can be predicted days or even weeks before it occurs. Other times, severe weather can cause flash floods that can happen within minutes. Getting prepared now will offer peace of mind and could possibly save your life. For more information on floods and safety visit: