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Floods Happen Are You Ready?

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The best way to prepare for a flood is to prepare a household emergency plan and 72-hour emergency kit ahead of time. This plan should detail the actions you and your family should take before, during and after a flood emergency is declared.

Before a Flood

Have a 72-hour emergency kit prepared for each member of your family. The kits should be easily accessible and easy to carry with you in case you have to evacuate your home.

A basic emergency kit includes:

  • Water - two litres of water per person per day (include small bottles) (don't forget pets!)
  • Food that won't spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (replace once a year)
  • Manual can opener
  • Wind-up or battery-powered flashlight (and extra batteries)
  • Wind-up or battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
  • First aid kit
  • Special needs items - pet food, prescription medications, infant formula, diapers or equipment for people with disabilities
  • Extra keys for your car and house
  • Cash - include smaller bills, such as $10 bills and change for payphones
  • Emergency plan- include a copy in your kit as well as contact information
  • Two additional litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning
  • Candles and matches or lighter (place in sturdy containers and do not burn unattended)
  • Change of clothing and footwear for each household member
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
  • Toiletries
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • Utensils
  • Garbage bags
  • Household chlorine bleach or water purifying tablets
  • Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, work gloves, pocket knife)
  • Small fuel-operated stove and fuel
  • Whistle (to attract attention)
  • Duct tape

To Reduce the Likelihood of Flood Damage

  • Put weather protection sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.
  • Install the drainage for downspouts a sufficient distance from your residence to ensure that water moves away from the building.
  • Clear fire hydrants around your house.
  • Consider installing a sump pump and zero reverse flow valves in basement floor drains. If you already have these devices, follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning to ensure that they are functioning properly.
  • Clean your eavestroughs. When they are blocked, rain can pour over the edges and could spill into your basement.
  • Do not store your important documents or valuables in the basement. Keep them at a higher level, protected from flood damage.

If a Flood is Forecast

  • Turn off basement furnaces and the outside gas valve.
  • Take special precautions to safeguard electrical, natural gas or propane heating equipment.
  • If there is enough time, consult your electricity or fuel supplier for instructions on how to proceed.
  • In a rural farm setting, sheltering livestock may be the wrong thing to do. Leaving animals unsheltered is preferable because flood waters that inundate a barn could trap animals inside, causing them to drown.
  • Stay away from fast flowing streams, rivers, and areas known to flood.

If Flooding is Imminent

  • Move furniture, electrical appliances and other belongings to floors above ground level.
  • Remove toxic substances such as pesticides and insecticides from the flood area to prevent pollution.
  • Remove toilet bowls and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections with a wooden stopper.
  • Disconnect eavestroughs if they are connected to the house sewer.
  • In some cases, homes may be protected with sandbags or polyethylene barriers. This approach requires specific instructions from your local emergency officials.
  • Do NOT attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present. Water and live electrical wires can be lethal. Leave your home immediately and do not return until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

During a Flood

Be Cautious Around Flooded Areas

  • It is not recommended to walk or drive on a flooded area or road.
  • If you are on foot, fast water could sweep you away.
  • Never swim during a rainfall event.
  • Be careful when walking near bodies of water as frozen banks and/or soft banks along the rivers can be slippery.
  • If you are in a car, do not drive through flood waters or underpasses. The water may be deeper than it looks and your car could get stuck or swept away by fast water. An average car cannot pass through water deeper than 0.3m (1ft).
  • Avoid crossing bridges if the water is high and flowing quickly.
  • If you are caught in fast-rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers and look for higher ground.
  • Do not attempt to rescue friends or pets from the river if they fall in because you may also be overcome by the force of the river. Call 911 for help immediately.
  • Keep your radio on to find out what areas are affected, what roads are safe, where to go and what to do if the local emergency team asks you to leave your home.
  • Keep your emergency kit close at hand, in a portable container such as a duffel bag, back pack, or suitcase with wheels.
  • Be prepared for disruptions to essential services and transportation.

If you need to evacuate

  • Evacuate your home when you are advised to do so by local emergency authorities. Ignoring such a warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those who might eventually have to come to your rescue.
  • Take your emergency kit with you.
  • Follow the routes specified by officials. Don't take shortcuts. They could lead you to a blocked or dangerous area.
  • Make arrangements for pets.
  • Time permitting, leave a note informing others when you left and where you went. If you have a mailbox, leave the note there.

After a Flood


Restore your home to good order as soon as possible to protect your health and prevent further damage to the house and its contents.

Re-entering Your Home

  • Do not return home until authorities have advised that it is safe to do so.
  • If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter your home until a qualified electrician has determined it is safe to do so.
  • Appliances that may have been flooded pose a risk of shock or fire when turned on. Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure, or sewage system until electrical components have been thoroughly cleaned, dried, and inspected by a qualified electrician.
  • The main electrical panel must be cleaned, dried, and tested by a qualified electrician to ensure that it is safe.
  • Depending on where you live, your municipal or the provincial inspection authority is responsible for the permitting process required before your electric utility can reconnect power to your home.


  • Flood water can be heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants. It can cause sickness and infections.
  • If through colour, odour or taste you suspect that your drinking water has been contaminated, don't drink it.
  • Household items that have been flood-damaged will have to be discarded according to local regulations.


  • Record details of flood damage by photograph or video, if possible.
  • Register the amount of damage to your home with both your insurance agent and local municipality immediately.


Maintain good hygiene during flood cleanup. Minimize contact with floodwater or anything that may have been in contact with it. Keep children away from contaminated areas during cleanup operations.

Recommended flood cleanup equipment:

  • Gloves
  • Masks and other protective gear
  • Pails, mops and squeegees
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Unscented detergent
  • Large containers for soaking bedding, clothing and linens, and clotheslines to hang them to dry
  • Depending on your situation, you may need to rent additional equipment such as extension cords, submersible pumps, wet/dry shop vacuums, a carbon monoxide sensor and dehumidifiers, fans or heaters.
  • When using the equipment, keep extension cords out of the water.

More information is available at




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