Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness Tips for Flooding

Preparations to reduce flood damage

  • Do not store important items or documents in the basement.
  • To prevent water from collecting beside your house and seeping into the basement make sure yard and flower gardens slope away from your house and onto a grassed area in the front or backyard – not toward a neighbour’s yard.
  • Install the drainage for downspouts a sufficient distance from your residence to ensure that water moves away from the building. 
Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in Canada.


Before a flood, when flooding is forecast

  • If there is time, move basement furniture, electronics and appliances upstairs.
  • Seal basement drains with rubber plugs or wooden stoppers.
  • If there is time, protect your home with sandbags.
  • 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.
  • If you are outside, get out of low areas subject to flooding.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Prepare your emergency survival kit, plan what to do with pets, and identify places to go that are not prone to flooding.

During a flood

  • 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.
  • If water rises in your home before you evacuate, go to the top floor, attic, or roof.
  • If you are outside and there is a flood, immediately go to higher ground such as a public building. Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.
  • Don’t drive. If you are in a vehicle, avoid disaster areas. If the vehicle stalls or water rises around your car, abandon it and get to higher ground immediately. Never drive through flooded roadways. 

After a flood

  • Do not return home until authorities have informed you that it is safe.
  • Disinfect everything the water has touched with a chlorine bleach solution (1 part bleach per 10 parts water).
  • Check for structural damage before entering your home or a public building. 
  • For insurance purposes, take pictures of damaged areas.
  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
  • 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.
  • Foods that come in contact with contaminated water should be thrown away.


  • Know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning.
    • A flood watch means flooding is possible.
    • A flood warning means flooding is occurring or will occur soon.
  • Water six inches deep can knock you off your feet.