An anonymous member asked: How do I prepare my home for flooding?
Being prepared can make all the difference to minimize the dangers of flooding. This is true whether you’re a homeowner or a renter.
Here are our top 10 tips to keep your homes and families safe before and during a flood.
- Make a plan: Have a plan in place for what steps your family will take in the event of a flood. Make a list of nearby shelters, plan your evacuation routes, and choose a meeting place in case you get separated. It’s also important to make sure you have an emergency kit ready and easily accessible.
- Look out for your neighbours: Make a list of neighbours in your community who might need help in an emergency – especially Elders or those who live alone. Offer to help them prepare their home for a flood. You can also include them as part of your emergency plans to help make sure they stay safe.
- Buy flood insurance: Just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars of damage. Talk with your insurance representative about the details of your policy and make sure you’re covered. This is important for renters and homeowners alike.
- Install a backwater valve and sump pump: Have a contractor install a backwater valve on your drain pipe. This will stop overflow from municipal sewer system from flowing into your house.
Pair this with a sump pump (ideally one with a battery back up), which works by collecting and removing any excess water from your home.
If you rent, ask your landlord if your home is equipped with these. If not, ask them to consider installing them.
(See here for tips on how to talk to your landlord about making climate safe upgrades to your rental home)
- Seal areas vulnerable to leaking: Walk around your house and look for holes or cracks that could let water in. Leaks are most likely to happen around windows, doors, and places where wires and pipes go in and out. Use caulk to seal any gaps.
You can also hire (or have your landlord hire) a contractor who specializes in flood preparedness to do this for you.
- Clean gutters and nearby storm drains: Regularly clean your gutters and nearby storm drains. This helps ensure proper water drainage away from your home. If you rent, keep an eye on these areas and let your landlord know if they need to be cleaned out.
- Elevate major appliances and valuables: Make sure important home systems like furnaces, hot water heaters, and electrical panels are raised up from the ground by at least 12 inches.
Pack valuable items into waterproof containers. Place them up and off the ground, or in upstairs rooms if you have them.
- Keep basic repair materials on hand: If you’re in an area prone to flooding, it’s important to have a supply of items like plywood, lumber, nails, plastic sheeting, and sandbags on hand. Shovels, pry bars, and basic tools like hammers and saws can also help with cleanup after a flood.
- Watch for Alerts: Stay informed about flood warnings and advisories in your area. In Canada, you can check Environment Canada’s website and download the WeatherCan app to receive alerts to your phone.
In the U.S. you’ll find the best information through the Emergency Alert System (EAS), NOAA’s Weather Radio, and local emergency channels. You can also receive weather updates by downloading the FEMA app.
- Follow evacuation orders: Evacuation orders are not optional. They are there to keep you and your family safe. If you receive one, grab your emergency bag, turn off your utilities (only if you have time), and make sure to follow your family’s emergency plan. Make your way to the nearest shelter.
BONUS: Invest in a generator. Items like sump pumps can be the difference between a dry basement and thousands of dollars in damage. And many of them run on electricity. If your power goes out, you want to make sure you can keep these and other vital systems running.