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Floods are the most common natural hazard in Canada. Protect yourself from flooding. Know what to do before, during and after a flood. 

Flooding occurs when temperatures suddenly rise, causing snow mounds to quickly melt. Flooding can also occur when there is heavy rainfall, causing an extra overflow of water. Exposure to flood waters can cause concerns about food safety, water safety, or clean-up activities.

You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours during an emergency. You should also understand the basic principles of first aid and safety.

To reduce the likelihood of flood damage, you can:

  • Store personal belongings in sealed bins, and move documents and keepsakes out of the basement.
  • Test sump pumps regularly and install a back-up power system.
  • Put weather protection sealant around basement windows and ground-level doors.
  • Install check valves in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Extend downspouts at least 2 metres from your home to move water away from the building.
  • Remove debris that could present danger during flood events.
  • Secure outdoor furniture and items around piers, docks or boathouses.
  • Regularly maintain water drainage systems, such as weeping tile, culverts and ditches.

Learn more about what to do to PREPARE and PROTECT your home for a flood.

People with disabilities or others requiring assistance

For those living with a physical, visual, auditory and/or other non-visible disability, emergency preparedness should also involve incorporating individual accommodations into their family emergency response plan.

Review the Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities.

Evacuate immediately if you are advised by emergency officials. If evacuation is not in place, please consider the following safety precautions:

  • Assume that your private well water or lake/river water is not safe to drink. Follow drinking water precautions to protect you and your family.
  • Food that has come into contact with flood water is no longer safe. Take precautions with food.
  • Make sure necessary personal items are secured and easily accessible in case you need to evacuate.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances — do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or standing in water.
  • Do not eat food that’s come in contact with flood water.
  • Ensure your cellphone is charged (safely).
  • Do not use taps, showers and toilets if your septic tank or the septic tank disposal field is under water.
  • If your property is impacted by flooding AND your electricity is on, leave the area immediately. Follow your emergency plan and move to a safe place on higher ground.
  • Never cross a flooded area – by foot or vehicle – the fast-moving water may be deeper than it appears and you could get stuck or swept away.
  • Keep children and pets away from floodwater.

Learn more about what to do DURING a flood, including what to do if you must evacuate.

Business Owners

If you operate a food premise, personal service setting or childcare setting, and flood waters enter the building, you must close until further consultation with a public health inspector. Floodwaters entering your building may contain sewage, chemicals or other hazards that can contaminate surfaces, equipment or food products, putting employees and the public at risk.

  • Commercially sealed, unopened, undamaged, airtight canned goods are safe once washed and sanitized.
  • Any surfaces or items (e.g. equipment, toys) that have been in contact with floodwaters are considered contaminated and need to cleaned and disinfected appropriately.

Contact the HKPR District Health Unit to speak with a public health inspector at 1-866-888-4577 or email

Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Take the following precautions following a flood:

  • Report any broken utility lines to the appropriate authorities.
  • Do not use flooded appliances, electrical outlets, switch boxes, or fuse breaker panels until they have been checked by your local authority.
  • Flood water can be heavily contaminated and can cause sickness and infections. If you have a well, don’t drink the water – have it tested first, and learn how to clean your well after a flood.
  • Floodwaters can be contaminated with sewage, chemicals, or other hazards that can pose a risk to your health. Do not enter areas of your home where floodwaters are present.
  • Restore your septic system after floodwaters drain away.
  • Any surfaces or personal items within your home that have been in contact with floodwaters should be handled carefully and considered contaminated. Learn how to clean and disinfect flooded area of your home.
  • Mould can quickly grow after a flood, causing serious health problems. Learn how to remove mould safely.

Learn more about what to do AFTER a flood.

For further help, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006.

You should check with your local municipality about flood preparations, including the availability of sandbags. If you are experiencing an immediate flood emergency, call your local municipality or 911.

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