Flood damage costs Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars annually, to say nothing of the cost in terms of human lives and suffering. In 1997, of the 11 emergency situations in Ontario, seven were related to flooding. All governments work to reduce the chance of floods, but the first line of defense is the individual. Each of us has a responsibility to protect our homes and families to the greatest extent possible. By planning ahead and taking sensible precautions, you can do your part to minimize flood damage.

At Work For You

Through radio and TV, local governments do their best to keep residents who are likely to be affected well informed. When flooding is imminent, or has occurred, detailed instructions by municipal or provincial authorities will be given as the need arises.

Be Prepared For Flooding

Homeowners, renters and businesses can take the following precautions to help prevent or lessen the effects of flooding.

  • If necessary, have a professional inspect your roof for excessive snow loads.
  • Check your sump pump to see if it’s working.
  • Check to see if your eaves troughs, culverts and drainage ditches are clear.
  • Review your insurance policy to ensure you are adequately covered. Make sure you have sewer back-up insurance.
  • Assemble a family disaster survival kit.

If You Are At Risk

When authorities have advised you that flooding is imminent, take precautions to ensure that you, your family and property are protected.

  • Make sure your radio battery is in working order and listen to local instruction.
  • Have emergency food, water and medical supplies on hand (i.e. family disaster kit).
  • Move furniture, electrical appliances, livestock, equipment and other belongings to higher levels.
  • Remove or seal hazardous products like weed killers or insecticides.
  • Do not plug basement floor drains. Allow pressure to equalize to prevent structural damage to basement, floors and walls.
  • Have sandbags ready to use.


If you are advised by the authorities to evacuate your home, then do so. Ignoring the warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those that might have to rescue you.

Before you leave, turn off power, water and gas.  Make arrangements for pets. Should time allow, leave a note informing others when you left and where you went. If you have a mailbox, leave the note there.

If you are evacuated, register with the reception centre so that you can be contacted and reunited with your family and loved ones.

On The Road…

  • Follow the routes specified by officials.  Don’t take short cuts. They could lead you to a blocked or dangerous area.
  • Travel very carefully, and only if absolutely necessary, through flooded areas. Roads may be washed away or covered with water. If you come across a barricade or a flooded road, take a different route.
  • Keep listening to the radio for information.
  • Emergency workers will be busy assisting people in flooded areas. Help them by staying out of the way.
  • If you must walk or drive in a flooded area, make sure you are on firm ground.
  • Watch out for power lines that are down.
  • If you are caught in fast rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers.

Returning Home

Care should be taken when re-entering your home.  Flood water is heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants that can pose a serious health hazard.

  • Before entering a flooded building, check for foundation damage and make sure all porch roofs and overhangs are supported.
  • Use a flashlight to inspect for damage inside your house. Do not strike a match or use an open flame unless you know the gas has been turned off.
  • If your basement is full of water, drain in stages, about a third of the volume of water per day (draining too quickly can
    structurally damage your home).
  • Using a dry piece of wood, turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box.
  • Wear rubber gloves, rubber boots and protective eyewear when cleaning up.
  • Do not use wet appliances or motors unless they have been serviced by a qualified electrician.
  • Contact your local heating repair company to inspect your furnace and chimney.
  • Do not use your regular water supply or septic system until it has been inspected and declared safe to use.
  • Dispose of all contaminated food.
  • If children are present during the clean-up operations, supervise them closely.
  • For instructions on how to disinfect wells and cisterns, contact the Health Services
  • Check your newspaper or listen to your radio or television for information about help that may be provided.