How to deal with a flood

If you are at home when a flood is in force, stay there. Attempting to wade to drier land can lead to disaster. Follow these steps when dealing with a flood.  

How to deal with a flood

If you are out in a flood

  • 15 centimetres of moving water can sweep people off their feet; 30 centimetres  can wash away a vehicle.
  • About half of flood-related deaths occur when people are trapped in automobiles that stall while being driven through flooded areas.
  • If your car stalls, abandon it immediately.

While at home during a flood

  • Open the basement windows so that pressure from water outside doesn't cause your walls to cave in.
  • If necessary, seal the outside doors of the house with plywood and plastic sheeting.
  • If the waters start creeping in and you can't leave the house, move to a higher floor or the attic. Take warm clothing and your emergency care kit with you wherever you go.
  • Fill sinks and bathtubs with water. You may need it later if the water supply becomes contaminated.
  • If the floor is flooded or any wiring gets wet, turn off the electric power at the main control panel (but only if you can get to the panel without having to step through the floodwater. Wading through water that's in contact with electrical outlets or appliances can give you a severe, possibly deadly, shock).

After the flood

  • If you get water in your basement, you can pump it out with a gasoline-driven pump. Keep the pump outside and lower the intake hose through a window. Gas-powered pumps release toxic fumes, which you can inhale if you're in an enclosed space.
  • Lower the water level no more than 60 centimetres (two feet) per day. If you pump out too much water within a short period of time, pressure from the water-saturated soil outside could cause the basement walls to collapse.
  • Use a shop vacuum to suck out the remaining puddles.
  • Just because the flood water recedes doesn't mean that danger is behind you; there's still a risk of injury or infection. The house foundation may have been weakened, the electrical system may have shorted, and the floodwaters may have been contaminated with sewage or other things that might make you sick.
  • Don't eat food that has been touched by floodwater.
  • Boil drinking water.
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