Guest post by Rebecca Ball, Red Cross blogger

Floods are the most frequent and costly natural disasters in Canada. A flood is often caused by heavy rainfall and the rapid melting of a thick snow pack in the spring. During this time the majority of Canadian rivers, and other large bodies of water, swell, increasing the risk of flooding. The potential for flood damage is particularly high where there is development on low-lying, flood-prone lands.

Flooding around homes
Overland water damage is increasing in both frequency and severity of damage caused. While flooding is most often associated with spring and snow melt, more and more floods are being caused by increasing microburst storms in the summer. Add an infrastructure (sewers) that cannot handle that amount of rain in a short period, more finished basements with electronics and furniture, and you get a recipe for an increase in costs of water damage to homes.

Photo credit: Ryan Crouse/Yorkton Storm Hunter

There are many things that homeowners can do to protect themselves from overland water damage.

“A couple of key items include installing a backwater valve on to your main drain, investing in a sump pump that diverts ground water away from your foundation, and talking to your insurance broker about specific coverage for overland water damage,” says Glenn Cooper, spokesperson with Aviva Canada, a new corporate sponsor for Canadian Red Cross’ Ready When the Time Comes Program. “Not previously available from any insurer in Canada, Aviva Canada recently launched an overland water protection product for residential property owners and tenants.”

This spring, reduce the risk of a snow melt flood with 6 easy steps:
  • Remove snow from around your foundation. Pay particular attention to the areas around window wells.
  • Most lots drain along the outside edges. Remove snow from these areas.
  • Keep the snow in your yard. Shoveling onto streets or lanes could block drains.
  • Check your roof and eaves troughs for excess snow. Consider hiring a professional to clear snow from your roof. A roof rake may help to clear the snow and debris from the edge of your roof.
  • Consider using sandbags to block water from entering low lying areas beside your foundation.
  • If water is getting close to your foundation, use an appropriate pump to drain it to the gutter or back lane. Please use all equipment properly and follow safety guidelines.
You can also find out if you live in a high-risk flood area with Environment Canada’s Flood Damage Reduction Program’s Flood Risk Maps. If you do live in a flood-prone area, check with your municipality to find out more about any flood mitigation and preparation work they may be doing.
For more information on disaster preparedness, visit