Brokers are being warned to pay attention to important information regarding clients returning to their homes after recent British Columbia wildfires. The BC Safety Authority (BCSA) has issued a warning for homeowners urging them to be careful when preparing gas and electrical systems.
“We know everyone has been through a very difficult period and people are anxious to get home. For safety reasons gas and electrical equipment exposed to fire or water should never be turned on without being inspected by a licensed contractor,” said BCSA director of operations for safety system operations Brad Bice.
The BCSA’s release shared consumer tips and broker instructions:
- Homeowners should wait for instructions – Local fire officials, in consultation with other involved agencies, are responsible for lifting evacuation orders. Homeowners should keep in mind that they should not move back to their properties until the proper authorities have declared the area safe. Most districts will first need to conduct a thorough assessment of the area to ensure the integrity of infrastructure and utilities, so some homeowners will have to wait.
- Understand reconnection requirements – In areas most affected by the wildfires, the local gas and electrical utilities may have turned off the connections. Homeowners are warned not to attempt to turn on their gas supply on their own; brokers might want to advise their clients to simply contact their local supplier for help.
- Risks with appliances – Electrical, gas, and heating equipment that have been subjected to fire or water damage should not be turned on or plugged in. Homeowners should call a licensed gas or electrical contractor to inspect the items first.
- Choose licensed contractors – Homeowners should stick to hiring licensed contractors, especially following natural disasters, since issues could arise related to safety, home insurance and liability. While homeowners can pull homeowner permits and accomplish minor gas and electrical work themselves (subject to inspection), such things are not permitted following natural disasters.
- Know when to leave – Homeowners who pick up the scent of rotten eggs coming from their homes should avoid creating any source of ignition (which may include using a smartphone) and should exit the property with the door open behind them. They must then contact either their propane supplier, gas utility, or 911.