Updated: Apr 26
To help electric vehicle owners affected by flooding New South Wales & Queensland (March 2022), we’ve put together some information about the risk of electric vehicle battery fire & electrocution.
The risk of fire & electrocution is low, but it’s good to be alert to the potential risks as flood waters subside.
Please note that this is advisory only & you should always follow directions from your local emergency response agency.
If your EV has been submerged in water, do NOT attempt to drive it or connect it to charging!
Here’s what you should know:
EV battery fire risk:
1. EV safety systems & battery packs are designed to be safe in water, even if fully submerged.
2. However, EVs that have been submerged in water, particularly salt water, may have a higher potential risk of experiencing a battery short circuit, which may result in a battery fire.
3. Once flood waters have subsided & submerged EVs start to drain, you should watch for the signs of EV battery fire, which include:
If you see these signs, EVACUATE the area immediately & call 000.
Electrocution risk (also see NFPA Submerged Hybrid / Electric Vehicles guide below):
4. EV high voltage (HV) battery is isolated from the vehicle chassis & electrocution risk is low.
5. A submerged EV does not electrify the water around it, however if bubbles are present, move away from the vehicle as these may contain toxic gases.
6. Exposed ORANGE cables & components indicate high voltage of over 300V & a risk of electrocution.
a. Do not touch any exposed ORANGE cables.
b. Do not touch exposed components that are coloured ORANGE or have ORANGE warning stickers on them.
If you see exposed ORANGE cables or components in your EV, EVACUATE the area immediately & call 000 &/or your EV manufacturer for advice.
Removal & towing:
7. Once flood waters have subsided & if no signs of fire or exposed HV cables & components are observed, contact your EV manufacturer for advice on removal & towing.
8. If hiring a towing company to move your EV, ensure they’ve read the manufacturer emergency response guide to determine exactly how to tow the EV to reduce risk.
9. It’s a good idea for EVs that have been submerged to be stored at least 15m from other vehicles in tow yard, in the unlikely event the battery catches fire later.
If signs of fire are seen during removal or storage, EVACUATE the area immediately & call 000.
Information & emergency response guides:
For more information & a complete list of EV emergency response guides, see:
NFPA (US) – Submerged Hybrid / Electric Vehicles Bulletin
NFPA (US) – Emergency Response Guides for Alternative Fuel Vehicles (note: contains many EVs not available in Australia)
ANCAP RESCUE app – all EV & ICE vehicle ERG & SDS
Read more in The Driven – Is a battery electric vehicle safe in a flood?
Downloadable infographic for EV drivers & emergency responders (below):