Merritt is no stranger to floods after last year’s atmospheric river event. This highly devastating period had caused the City of Merritt to evacuate its residents swiftly in the dead of night, leaving their homes vulnerable.

“I think what we’re finding is that people are becoming more aware of the potential for flooding,” said Kimberly Fenwick, director of system risk at Technical Safety B.C.

Fenwick acknowledges that people are now more cognizant of the potential of flooding but they may not see the whole picture.

“They might be thinking about sandbagging or an escape plan if they end up needing to leave, but they might not be aware that there are risks to their gas and electrical appliances in the event of a flood. There’s some things that they can do to prepare those appliances and to be safer if they’re returning to their homes after a flooding event.”

The Herald had the opportunity to speak with Fenwick and discuss Technical Safety B.C.’s tips on handling electrical and gas appliances both pre and post flooding.

“Some people have more time to prepare than others but when electrical and gas appliances are exposed to flood waters, they can be damaged in a way that could create safety risks,” she said.

“At a very basic level, if an electrical appliance is damaged, then it creates a potential for electrocution if it’s not handled properly. Conversely, If a gas appliance is damaged, one of the things that could happen is a potential gas leak which can lead to explosion or fire risks.”

When asked about actionable items residents could do to better prepare home appliances, she cited the idea of installing a certified hardwired surge suppressor to a home’s main electrical panel which may require assistance from a licensed electrician.

“The other thing people could be thinking about may not be what they buy but where to install it,” Fenwick further explained.

“If people are looking to install gas and electric appliances such as furnace, washer, and dryer, then you should consider installing it higher up in the home where they are less likely to be impacted by flood water.”

Below you can find some key pre and post-flooding safety tips.

What to prepare in advance if you live in a flood zone:
Make a check list of all appliances you would need to unplug ahead of a flood evacuation.
If possible, do your research ahead of time to determine what licensed contractor you would contact in the event your property is impacted by flooding. You can find a list of licensed contractors on our website,

Pre-flooding safety tips

Prep your electrical appliances:
Perform a thorough check to ensure that all 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 electrical appliances and have a licensed contractor isolate electrical circuits.

Prep your gas appliances:
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.
Shut off the water leading to and from hot water tanks.

If serious damage is expected:
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 to prevent the tank from floating and being carried away by floodwaters.
If 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.

Post-flooding safety tips

Conduct your own investigation.
Only return to your property once it’s safe and you’ve been cleared to do so.
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 inspected at by a licensed gas or electrical contractor.
Don’t have a contractor? Review our list of licensed contractors in B.C.

Contact your utility supplier.
If your power has been turned off, contact your power and/or gas supplier to have it turned back on (e.g., BC Hydro, Fortis BC, etc.)

Additional information on flood safety can be found by visiting the Technical Safety BC website.