We hit the ground running in January with a busy start to the year. Then it started raining
Working in the flooded areas around Auckland posed challenges that we didn’t expect to ever encounter. Our fear as a company was sending our team out into an environment we hadn’t seen before, buildings filled with large amounts of water and live electricity. In some cases, people were still inside these buildings that needed to be evacuate.
Our team scrambled for 36 hours to make sure our clients were safe, and buildings were secure to re-enter and salvage what we could.
Assessing the risk before entering was important, we had to be well prepared. And after all was electrically safe, we could assess the aftermath and take the time to identify hazards and remove any associated risks. Keeping our team and clients out of harm’s way was a top priority.
In some cases, we just had to take a step back and remove ourselves and wait for the water levels to recede before we could attempt to enter the buildings safely.
We took many learnings from this experience, and it is important to note, as a service provider, home or business owner, the critical steps to keep safe from an electrical perspective:
Assess the risk!
Make sure you assess the risk; you are more likely to come across some unusual circumstances.
– Water contamination
– Asbestos exposure
– Biological and chemical exposure
– Working around demolition
– Fatigue and mental health
Flood water is easily contaminated and the likelihood of sewage, oils and fuel being present is high. Depending on the severity of damage already caused, flooded buildings and surrounding areas could be harbouring environmental debris, concealed items, broken glass or asbestos.
A natural disaster is a stressful time, consider your own mental health and of those around you. A fatigued mind and body is a risk in itself.
Mitigate the risk!
Make safe of what you can, while also keeping yourself safe.
– Electrical: Turn off all switches at the main switchboard, including the main switch.
Unplug your appliances and put them somewhere high and out of reach of water if possible.
Follow lock and tag out procedures.
– Solar: Turn off your solar system off at the inverter and then turn off at the switchboard. Your solar system will have information on the shutdown procedure.
– Batteries: Turn your solar batteries off. Follow the shutdown procedure which will be close to the battery system. Do not attempt to disassemble the battery or open any of the panels.
Wearing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) like enclosed footwear, eyewear and gloves is an extra safety precaution not to be overlooked.
Most importantly, if your wellbeing feels compromised take a step back and press PAUSE! Emergency services are available by dialling 1-1-1
Our team witnessed a significant amount loss over this time, and it was heartening to see after all we’ve dealt with over the last few years, the resilience of Kiwis is still strong and they’re rolling their sleeves up, getting stuck in and cleaning up.
We want to acknowledge our team for rising to the occasion and going above and beyond to help our community.