An extensive guide to flood preparation and safety

September 22, 2015

Here are some proven tips for staying safe during a flood. If you live in a flood-prone area, contact your local emergency management office and learn your community's flood alert signals.

An extensive guide to flood preparation and safety

During a flood watch

During a flood watch, the most important thing is to prepare for the possibility of a flood and listen to your local radio station for up-to-the-minute information.

  • Listen to a battery-powered radio for the latest storm information.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water for drinking in case the water supply becomes contaminated.
  • Check that your disaster supply kit is fully supplied and up to date.
  • Bring in patio furniture, grills, trash cans and other outdoor belongings to avoid damage.
  • Move household valuables and essential house and family records to the upper floors or to high ground.
  • Turn off electricity at the service panel, and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
  • Prepare your car for evacuation. Fuel up and put the evacuation map and disaster supply kit on board.

If a flood hits your area

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Evacuation is simpler and safer before floodwaters become too deep for vehicles to drive through.

  • Follow recommended evacuation routes; shortcuts may be blocked.
  • If you come to a flooded area, turn around and go another way.
  • If the car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
  • Should the waters start to rise inside your house before you have a chance to leave, do not try to walk or swim through the flooded area. As little as 15 centimetres (six inches) of moving water can sweep you away.
  • Go to the second floor, the attic or, if necessary, the roof and wait for rescue.
  • Take along dry clothes, blankets, a flashlight and a portable radio.

After a flood

Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Always be aware of the situation and stay in contact with others to make sure both you and them are safe.

  • Listen to a radio or TV, and don't return home until you're told that it is safe to do so.
  • Stay out of buildings if floodwaters remain around them.
  • When entering buildings, do not turn power back on until an electrician has done a safety inspection.
  • Wear sturdy shoes to protect against broken glass and nails, and watch out for slippery surfaces.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights, and do not light matches or use any open flames, since gas may be trapped inside.
  • Examine walls, doors and windows to see that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
  • Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes, that may have come in with the floodwaters.
  • Use a stick to poke through debris.
  • Throw away food that has come in contact with floodwaters. Floating sewage and chemicals may contaminate them.
  • Boil drinking water until local authorities declare the water safe.
  • Pump out flooded basements gradually — about one-third of the water per day — to avoid structural damage.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.
  • Call your insurance company to file a flood claim.
  • When rebuilding, use flood-resistant materials and techniques to protect yourself and your property from future flooding damage.

While floods can be dangerous situations, be prepared and having an evacuation plan is the best way to remain safe during a flood and protect your home from damages. Review this guide to make sure you are prepared for this type of disaster.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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