Investigators are looking closely at a portable water pump submerged in water as they work to determine how a mother and her four-year-old daughter were electrocuted outside their flooded Maryland basement.
Crystal Leigh Puderbaugh, 29, and Lily Elizabeth Puderbaugh, 4, died when they were electrocuted Saturday, police said.
Crystal died of electrocution and drowning, and Lily died of electrocution, the county medical examiner has ruled.
A firefighter attempting to rescue the pair was also shocked, though he is expected to recover.
Andrew Altman is the regional manager for MidAtlantic Waterproofing, and said safety when using water pumps is essential. Handle them properly, so that the cord does not stretch and lead to a short.
And, most important, insure a ground fault interrupter is installed in the home. GFIs will cut off the electricity if there is a short.
"You need a GFI outlet," Altman said. "If you don't have that, you should not be using [a water pump] at all."
Another route is to install a permanent sump pump, Altman said.
The electrocution happened in a stairwell outside a home in the 8800 block of Connecticut Avenue in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Montgomery County. It was reported to police at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, right after serious storms swamped the D.C. area.
The basement of the home was saturated by water, and there was standing water in the stairwell leading to the basement, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.