Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Clean Up….
This is a really important maintenance procedure that ALL campgrounds should perform after any flooding that puts their pedestals underwater. Considering all of the campgrounds on the East Coast that were flooded out by Hurricane Florence, it’s an important safety step that shouldn’t be overlooked.
After seeing all the pictures and videos of the flood on the East Coast from Hurricane Florence recently, one image stuck in my mind. One of the news feeds had a video of a campground that was underwater deep enough that many of the pedestals were completely under water, possibly for days. But soon after the waters receded, there were notices from campgrounds that they were back in business. But, were they really…?
Anytime there’s a flood, there’s a lot more in the water than just “H2O”. It’s full of all kinds of oil and gasoline from vehicles, sewage from waste treatment plants, every kind of mud and sludge possible, and heaven only knows what else. And if the outlets and circuit breakers in the campground pedestals have been sitting in it, you really don’t want to connect your shore power plug into one that’s not been properly cleaned and tested. Now, getting the campground owners to test every pedestal outlet might be asking for a bit much, but perhaps we can at least get the pedestal outlets and breakers cleaned up.
Where to begin?
Step 1: First thing to do is make sure all the power is turned off to the campground. You don’t want to be wading around in water that has an electrical gradient running through it.
Step 2: Each pedestal should have its cover opened up, and the inside of the box sprayed with water from a water hose. You HAVE to get all the mud, bugs and gunk out of the box, circuit breakers and outlets or it will never be right.
Step 3: Any GFCI that’s been submerged won’t be repairable and should be replaced. None of the GFCI manufacturers I contacted would sanction any cleaning method for one of their GFCI outlets that were under water. They have to be replaced just for liability reasons.
Step 4: Take a spray bottle of distilled water and do a secondary wash of the inside of the still-wet receptacles and circuit breakers. That’s to get out any calcium or other nasty chemicals that were in the water hose.
Step 5: Allow the pedestal to air-dry for at least an hour, or use compressed air to speed up the process.
Step 7: I’m not sure what to do with any circuit breakers that have spent extended time under water. But if I can’t find a reasonable cleaning method from the manufacturer, then they probably should be replaced if they were under water for more than a few hours.
Step 8: After all pedestals have been cleaned up and the covers properly installed, they should each be tested for proper voltage, polarity and ground integrity with a Ground Loop Impedance Tester such as a SureTest Analyzer from Ideal Industries.
There may be other cleaning considerations and procedures, but that’s my best educated guess for now. I used to do computer room cleanup after they had been flooded out from sprinklers after a fire (don’t ask), and this was the basic procedure we used that was nearly foolproof.
Well, that’s it for now. Until next time, let’s play safe out there…
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit NoShockZone.org for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.