Floods & Flooded Areas

Severe weather can bring heavy rainfall in a short period of time resulting in flooding of basements and other below-grade areas. Flooding can also occur as a result of broken water or drain lines, sump pump failures, and chemical leaks.

Flooded areas can be hazardous for reasons that may not be obvious. Potential hazards include electrical shock, holes, pits and tripping hazards obscured by water. Mud or other contaminants can make walking surfaces slippery.

What to Do:

DO NOT enter a flooded area. Assume that flood water is energized. 
Contact Facilities Customer Service (609-258-8000) or Public Safety (258-1000) to report floods and for further instruction.

If You Must Work in a Flooded Area:

  • Contact Facilities Customer Service (609-258-8000) or Public Safety (258-1000) to ensure power has been turned off before starting any work.
  • Determine the identity of the flooded material – for example water, chemical, or sewage. Dress in appropriate personal protective equipment for the hazard and avoid contact with floodwaters.
  • If you must wade into standing water after the power has been disconnected, be mindful of hidden hazards. Sump pump pits, sewage ejection pits and objects previously placed on the floor may not be visible under the water.
  • Be aware of potential chemical hazards you may encounter.  Flood waters may have buried or displaced hazardous chemical containers from their normal storage locations.
  • If you plan to use any electrical equipment in wet areas, it needs to have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs may be portable (external) or built right into a receptacle.
  • If you smell natural gas or suspect a leak, leave the area and contact the Department of Public Safety at 609-258-3333 or 911 from a campus phone or activate a blue light phone.  Do not smoke or use open flames.
  • In labs, turn off remotely supplied compressed gases. Use of a gas powered pump or portable generator must be located outside; if use indoors is inescapable, monitoring for carbon monoxide is essential!
  • Always wash your hands with soap and clean, running water after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage or after participating in flood cleanup activities.  If you receive a puncture wound during cleanup activities, contact University Health Services or your medical provider to determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary.

For more information:

If you have any questions, or if you are unsure of how to proceed, do not enter the flooded area and contact your supervisor for assistance or Environmental Health and Safety at 609-258-5294.


Kelly States
Assistant Director

Meagan Fitzpatrick
Assistant Director and Biosafety Officer