Catastrophe Center

Flood Personal Preparedness & Planning

How to Prepare Before a Flood

The first step in preparing for a flood is to understand the warnings. A Flood Watch is when flooding is possible, but there's no guarantee it will occur. A Flood Warning is when flooding is currently occurring or will occur soon, so there isn't much time to prepare. Use these warnings to gauge which steps you should follow and when in preparing for a flood:

  • Maintain an emergency supply kit that will sustain you and your family for a 72-hour period. This kit should include flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, nonperishable food, bottled water, cash, blankets, clothing and toiletries. Store your kit in a place commonly known to all family members. Replace and/or refresh items in your kit every six months.
  • Keep all important documents, such as legal papers, birth certificates, marriage license, financial papers and insurance policy information in a safety deposit box or fireproof and waterproof box on an upper floor inside your home.
  • Have an evacuation plan and make sure everyone in your family knows where you will go. If you have pets, plan for their evacuation as well.
  • Elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel if they are in areas that are susceptible to flooding.
  • Bring outdoor furniture inside.
  • Seal the walls in your basement with waterproof compounds.
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, installing sump pumps and/or French drains makes sense.

What to Do During a Flood

Remain calm during a flood. The more you plan ahead, the easier it is to stay focused and stay safe during a flood. If possible, monitor Environment Canada public weather alerts or local television and radio stations for updates and evacuations. Follow these other steps to protect yourself, your family and your home during a flood:

  • If possible, move to higher ground.
  • Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Avoid driving unless necessary. If you must drive, avoid low-lying and flooded roadways.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Evacuate immediately if told to do so or if you think you are at risk of danger.

What to Do After a Flood

Once the flood is over, wait for local authorities to indicate that it's safe to return to your home or office before doing so. Be sure to avoid flooded or washed-out roads as they could collapse. Heed these other tips to stay safe after a flood:

  • Avoid tap water until you learn that your community's water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid floodwaters as water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings. There may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater may contain sewage.
  • If you’re a Chubb client and suffered damage due to a flood, click here to begin the claims process.

This information is advisory in nature. No liability is assumed by reason of the information in this document.