Release date: September 29, 1993
Release number: 93-112

Release Details

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning flood victims that all gas control valves, electric circuit breakers, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), and fuses that have been under water must be replaced to avoid explosions and fires. Even if these safety devices appear to function after being submerged in a flood, they are unfit for continued use and cannot be repaired. They may eventually fail, causing explosions or fires. Other parts of gas and electric appliances that have been submerged such as fans, motors, electric circuits, and venting systems should be evaluated by a qualified technician for continued safe operation. Entire appliances may need to be replaced.

Gas control valves on furnaces, water heaters, and other gas appliances that have been under water must be replaced. Silt and corrosion from flood water can damage internal components of control valves and prevent proper operation. Gas can leak and result in an explosion or fire. Gas control valves that have been under water cannot be salvaged; they must be replaced.

Electric circuit breakers, GFCIs, and fuses that have been submerged must also be replaced because water and silt inside the devices prevent them from performing properly as safety devices. Flood water and silt trapped inside circuit breakers or switches can cause electrical shorting or mechanical malfunctions. The only safe action is to discard and replace circuit breakers, GFCIs, and fuses that have been under water.

CPSC also recommends that consumers test smoke detectors that have been submerged.

CPSC issues this warning as part of its mission to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury and death associated with consumer products. The Commission's mission is to reduce the estimated 28.6 million injuries and 21,700 deaths associated each year with the 15,000 different types of consumer products under CPSC's jurisdiction.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CPSC is distributing this warning to several national trade associations representing the gas and electric industries. The Commission also asks media to reprint the attached warning for consumers in flood areas.

CPSC CONTACTS:

Dan Rumelt, Washington, DC -- (301) 504-7908;
Catherine Thorsen, Chicago, IL -- (312) 353-8260;
Carolyn Schultz, St. Paul, MN -- (612) 290-3781.

Media Contact

Please use the below phone number for all media requests.

Phone: (301) 504-7908
Spanish: (301) 504-7800

View CPSC contacts for specific areas of expertise