Being Prepared: Flood Proofing Your Home and Family

May 11th 2017
Being Prepared: Flood Proofing Your Home and Family

Although flooding can occur at any time of year, the most severe floods result seasonally from heavy rain, combined with the spring snowmelt runoff. The resulting surge can happen anytime between April and July. Individuals and families should be familliar of potential risks in their area and if you live in an area subject to flooding, you can take steps now to minimize property damage and personal risk. Start by being aware of your responsibilities, be mindful of local conditions and know where to go for information well before disaster strikes.

Know the risks

- Know if you live in a flood-risk area.
- Watch for warning signs in your nearby. environment: increases in water height and intensity in streams and rivers, mudslides, debris in creeks, colour changes in water, leaning trees or cracks developing on hillsides.
- Stay tuned to local radio stations for directions from local officials as to what to do in case of severe flooding risk.
- Know where you can get information about weather reports and current conditions.

Prepare your family

- Put together an emergency supply kit, including at least a three-day's supply of food and water for each family member. Include a windup or battery-powered radio, flashlight and batteries, prescription medications and important papers.
- Ensure each member of your family has warm clothing and waterproof footwear.
- Ensure that each family member has identification. Name tags on children's clothing, wallet cards and wristbands are useful in case you are separated.
- Remind every member of your household on the location of your family emergency meeting place.
- Have an out-of-province contact.
- Know what to do if an evacuation is necessary.
- Make arrangements for your pets and any livestock.
- Prepare to follow instructions of emergency officials.

When there is immediate danger of flooding, and if there is time

- Move basement furniture and other items to a higher floor.
- Electrical service - Shut off power to your home, but do not attempt to turn off power if the room is already flooded.
- Electrical appliances - Unplug electrical appliances and move them to a higher level.
- Get more information about electrical and natural gas safety through your local service provider or go to
- Natural gas - If you live in a house: teach members of your family where and how to shut off the water, electricity and gas supply.
- Gas or oil furnaces and appliances - Oil or water tanks will float if not full. If unable to fill, weigh down with sandbags or wedge against a solid object. Propane gas tanks may float whether full or empty you might want to tie a chain or cable around the tank to anchor it and prevent it from floating away.
- Plumbing fixtures and water supplies - Turn off the water supply. Plug all basement sewage connections (toilets, sinks, showers) with a wooden plug or other device. The plug should be held in place with a heavy weight.
- Items that may cause contamination - pesticides, weed killers, fertilizers and other such items should be moved to higher levels.
- Sewer system - To relieve overloading, disconnect any downspouts that drain to them.
- Outdoor items - Move to higher ground all items such as furniture and barbeques that could be damaged by flooding or which may float and cause damage.
- Sandbagging - If you have time to construct a dike, build it on high ground, close to your home. This way, fewer sandbags will be needed and the dike will be less exposed to any nearby streams. Dig a trench one bag in depth and two bags wide as a foundation for the dike structure. A dike must be three times as wide at its base as it is high.
- Polyethylene sheeting - In preparation for severe flooding, you may wish to use polyethylene (plastic) sheeting on the exterior lower levels of your home. Step-by-step instructions are found in the Flood Proofing Your Home guide.

If you must evacuate

- Always follow the instructions of local emergency officials.
- Turn off and unplug all appliances, lock doors and windows.
- Know how to safely turn off all utilities at the main switches or valves.
- Take your grab-and-go emergency supply kit with you
- Leave a note in your mailbox saying where you've gone and inform an out-of-province contact.
- Special consideration needs to be given to those with special needs: tell visually impaired people the nature of the emergency and guide them through any dangerous areas; for those with hearing impairment, write out what is happening and tell them the evacuation procedure.
- Listen to emergency personnel and follow their directions. Do not take shortcuts, as you may end up in a blocked or dangerous area.
- Do not walk through moving water. Water can be deeper than it appears. It only takes 60 cm (2 ft.) to sweep a car away and as little as 15 cm (6 in.) of moving water can cause you to fall.
- Register with the local reception centre if you are evacuated, so emergency responders know you are safe how to reach you.

When to return home

- Do not return home until instructed to do so, and there is a safe supply of water and a satisfactory system for disposal of human waste and garbage.
- Continue to monitor radio and television reports in your area.
- Once you are able to return, be prepared to take stock of the damage and begin cleanup.
- If your home was flooded, bring large containers to soak bedding and clothing.
- Bring pails, mops and sponges.
- Do not go inside if there is standing water around the house. The water could be contaminated or carry electric current.
- Get more information about electrical and natural gas safety through your local service provider or go to
- Take pictures of the damage inside and out, for insurance claims.
- Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals
- Do not turn on electrical switches or wet electrical equipment unless okayed by an electrician.
- To avoid a health hazard from eating food contaminated with flood waters, or left in an unplugged fridge or freezer - if in doubt, throw it out. Contamination can spoil foods and medicines, making them dangerous to consume.
- Contact your insurance and utility companies.
- For detailed clean up and other information, access the One Step at a Time Disaster Recovery Guide.