A flood is an abnormal rise in the water level of streams or rivers – often caused by heavy rainfall, dam or levee failures, tsunamis, storm surges or burst water mains – which results in water overflowing into low-lying areas. A flash flood is a sudden and extreme volume of water which flows rapidly and causes inundation and which, because of its nature, is difficult to forecast.

Preparing for a Flood

It’s important to be ready for a flood so you’re not caught unprepared. Some of the most important things you can do to prepare are:

  • Know if your property is at risk – chances are you could be affected by flooding if your property is close to the coast or you’re located in a low-lying area or next to rivers, ravines and other waterways.
  • Assess your options – if you’re able to, spend additional money upfront in construction to withstand flood waters. If flood insurance is available, buy it.
  • Make plans – make sure you have a well-prepared personal evacuation and participate in the local community processes for planning, preparedness, hazard mapping, evacuation planning and search and rescue. Make plans for your pets and farm animals and supplies. Store livestock feed and supplies above expected water levels. Remember to keep important documents in water proof bag or make copies and store electronically.
  • Stock up – keep materials like lumber, plywood, nails, rope, wires, plastic sheeting, sandbags as well as a portable transistor radio with spare batteries and emergency equipment on hand. Have your emergency kit ready and include non-perishable food, medication and other necessary supplies.
  • Be aware – monitor weather conditions and listen to local radio stations. Obey official instructions and advisories when flood watches and warnings are issued. Know the flood warning system in your community and ensure that your family knows the warnings

During a Flood

If a flood is occurring, you need to know the hazards you face and how to minimize those dangers. Some of the most important things you can do are:

  • Make sure you’re in a safe place – stay at home, if it’s safe and on high ground. If you are in an unsafe area move to a designated shelter and stay there until the event is over. If evacuation orders are given, evacuate early to provide better management at shelters.
  • Be prepared – If you move to an emergency shelter, make sure you take some food with you, masks and hand sanitizers or rubbing alcohol (70%)
  • Listen closely and act – during a flood, local authorities will be issuing advisories and official instructions identifying danger zones and issuing evacuation orders. Listen and obey these instructions and evacuate early. Store drinking water in sealed plastic containers as water service may be interrupted and move household items and livestock to higher ground if possible. Do Not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn off electricity at the main switch before evacuating.

After a Flood

  • Pay close attention – listen to local radio stations and obey advisories and official instructions given by local authorities.
  • Stay safe – Do not enter into declared danger zones identified by local authorities and stay clear from collateral activity and await further instructions. Beware of water-covered roads and bridges.
  • Get help if needed – seek necessary medical care at health centres or hospital and boil all drinking water until the Health Authorities have declared the water supply safe.

Help out – assist your neighbours and search and rescue personnel. Share information and eyewitness accounts of your area where possible.

Sources/more information