Floods are the most frequent natural hazards in Canada, and can occur in any province or region. Although flooding can happen at any time of the year, it is most often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid melting of a thick snow pack or ice jams. The potential for flood damage is particularly high where there is development on low-lying, flood-prone lands.
Be prepared and know what to do during and after a flood.
During A Flood
If you need to evacuate
Listen to the radio 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, backpack, or suitcase with wheels.
- Vacate 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.
- Notify family and/or friends when you left and where you went.
Never cross a flooded area
- If you are on foot, just 6” of fast water could sweep you away.
- 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 quickly.
- 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.
Prepare a basic emergency kit
- Water – at least two litres of water per person per day. Include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order.
- Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (remember to replace the food and water once a year).
- Manual can opener.
- Crank or battery-powered flashlight (and extra batteries).
- Crank or battery-powered radio (and extra batteries).
- First aid kit.
- Special items such as prescription medications, infant formula and equipment for people with disabilities.
- Extra keys to your car and house.
- Cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills and change for payphones.
- A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
After a Flood
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.
- Use extreme caution when returning to your home after a flood.
- 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.
Ensure building safety
- Make sure the building is structurally safe.
- Look for buckled walls or floors.
- Watch for holes in the floor, broken glass and other potentially dangerous debris.
- Flood water can be heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants. It can cause sickness and infections.
- If your house has been flooded and you have a well, don’t drink the water. Have it tested first.
- Household items that have been flood-damaged will have to be discarded according to local regulations.
- Store all valuable papers that have been damaged in a freezer until needed. (After your cleanup, consult your lawyer to determine whether flood-damaged documents, or just the information in them, must be retained).
- 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.