Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in Canada and the most dangerous in Ontario in terms of property damage, civil disruption and even death. Floods are typically caused by seasonal melting snow, ice jams, heavy spring rains and summer thunderstorms. Flash flooding is often caused by violent rain storms or breaking dams, and usually occurs with little or no advance warning.

Before a Flood

  • Review and discuss the safety tips with your household to make sure everyone understands what to do during a flood.
  • The ground around your home should slope away from the foundation wall to help drain water away.
  • Eavestroughs and downspouts should be installed to move water away from your home.
  • Windows and doors at ground level should be weather protected and in good working order.
  • Install 'check valves' in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Move any important documents or keepsakes out of the basement and store them at a higher level to protect them from flood damage.
  • If you live in an area that has a high flood risk, consider hiring a professional to raise the furnace, water heater and electric panel off the ground.

If You Know a Flood is Coming

  • Shut off the electricity at the panel or fuse box ONLY if the area around the main power box is dry.
  • Move toxic or hazardous materials away from the flood area to avoid pollution.
  • Turn off basement furnaces and the outside gas valve.
  • Reduce home water use during heavy rainfall events.
  • Pay attention to internet, radio and television safety messages.

During a Flood

  • Call 911 if you have a life-threatening emergency.
  • Keep children and pets away from lakes, rivers, creeks, and low-lying areas which may be prone to flooding.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur; if a flash flood occurs, move to higher ground right away.
  • Keep your Emergency Kit close at hand in a portable container in case you are asked to evacuate your home.

If You Need to Evacuate

  • Leave your home when asked to do so by emergency officials.
  • Ignoring a warning could endanger your family or those who might have to come to your rescue. Take your pets. If it's not safe for you, it's not safe for them!
  • Take your Emergency Kit with you.
  • Follow the route specified by officials. Don't take shortcuts as they could lead to blocked or dangerous areas.
  • Time permitting, leave a note telling others when you left and how to get in touch with you.
  • Never cross a flooded area on foot or in a car. The water may be deeper and moving faster than it looks. If you are caught in fast-rising water and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and passengers.

After a Flood

  • Don't return home until you have been told it is safe to do so. Use extreme caution when returning to your home after a flood.
  • Make sure the building is safe to enter. Buckled walls or floors are a sign of danger.
  • Appliances that have been in contact with flood water can pose a risk of shock or fire when turned on.
  • Do not go into a flooded basement until the power has been shut off to your home.
  • Flood water can be contaminated with sewage and other hazardous materials. Wear protective clothing especially boots, gloves and masks to minimize contact.
  • Call your insurance company immediately to report damages.
  • Algoma Public Health recommends calling a professional cleaning company to clean up after a flood. If you choose not to use a professional, follow the steps outlined in A Guide for Cleaning Up After Flood or Sewer Back Up.
  • If you get water from a well and have had flooding on your property, the water may be contaminated. Do not drink the water until it has been tested. For information on testing visit Algoma Public Health.
  • Avoid pumping your septic tank immediately after a flood; an empty septic tank can become buoyant and possibly leak or spill.

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