Planning for and dealing with Floods

Floods are one of the most common and costly disasters in Canada. Floods occur when there is heavy or steady rain for several hours or days, which oversaturates the ground. All rivers in Canada experience flooding at one time or another. Hurricanes, violent storms, ice jams or dams breaking can also lead to flash flooding. The potential for flood damage is high where there is development on low-lying, flood-prone lands.

What you should do:


Floods can happen anywhere and at any time of the year. The best way to protect yourself and your family in case of a flood is to follow these three steps:

  1. Know your risks: Find out if you live in an area where floods could potentially happen.
  2. Make a plan: Work with your family to make a plan so that when a flood happens, you are ready.
  3. Get a kit: You can buy a preparedness kit from the Red Cross, or make your own.
  • Listen to local news and weather reports for any potential flood warnings in your area.
  • When a flood warning is issued, listen to local authorities for further directions.
  • Check on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours (the elderly, ill, disabled) who may require special assistance. 


If you are at home:

  • Turn off power and gas lines, if necessary;
  • Place your valuables on the upper floor of your house;
  • Remain on the upper floor and wait for instructions from your local authorities.

If you are away from home:

  • Stay away from swollen streams and rivers, since moving waters can sweep you away, even if you are in a car;
  • Head to elevated areas;
  • Remain in an area where you are visible and safe.

If you are in your car:

  • Be careful when driving – puddles can be deeper than you think;
  • Go to an elevated area and park your car there;
  • Turn off the engine, get out of your vehicle and wait.


  • Continue to take precautions and listen to and follow directions from local authorities.
  • Only return home when officials have declared it safe to do so.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for any damage: loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks etc.
  • Parts of your home may be damaged – approach entrances carefully.
  • Stay away from any fallen power lines.
  • Discard any food items which may have been in contact with flood waters. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Do not use water that may be contaminated for washing, cleaning, drinking or food preparation.
  • Wear protective clothing - such as rubber boots and gloves – during cleanup.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1.
  • You can also consult our Guide to Flood Recovery.
  • You can also consult our Coping with Crisis Guide.

Additional Resources