Flooding is the most frequent hazard in Canada and causes millions of dollars in damage annually.
In Vaughan, flash flooding of roads, catch basins, stormwater systems and some rivers can occur because of heavy rainfall over a short period of time. Flood-contaminated water can carry diseases, hazardous materials and debris that can cause harm to people and properties.
Preparing for a flood
- Monitor media, the City's website and social media.
- Check insurance policies to ensure coverage for different types of flooding.
- Ensure the home’s sump pump is working and a backup pump is available.
- Create a family emergency plan (PDF) and an emergency kit.
- Have a back-water valve installed.
- Do not store important documents in the basement.
- Ensure grading of the property slopes away from the walls of the home.
- Use water- and mold-resistant materials for renovations below ground level.
- Install a water alarm with a home security system.
- In the winter, residents living closest to a catch basin are encouraged to help clear it of snow and ice to help prevent flooding. Catch basins need to be cleared throughout the winter to allow for proper drainage – this helps to prevent flooding on roads during temperature fluctuations.
During a flood
- Move valuable belongings to the highest areas of the home.
- Apply water-tight sealant around window and door frames.
- Plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections with a wooden stopper.
- Move hazardous substances such as household cleaning chemicals, insecticides and pesticides to upper areas of the home.
- Turn off electricity and natural gas if directed to do so by authorities.
- Do not attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present. Water and live electrical wires can be lethal. Leave the home immediately and do not return until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
- Do not wait until water enters the home to evacuate.
- Post an evacuated sign (PDF) on the front door or in a window.
- Use sandbags and flood barriers when asked to do so by authorities.
- Stay away from fast-flowing streams, rivers and areas known to flood.
- Check with Alectra Utilities Inc. that power has been turned off to the home – if it has not been turned off, have an electrician turn off the power.
After a flood
- Once authorities have advised it is safe to return home, restore the home to good order as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the house and its contents.
- While cleaning, minimize contact with floodwater or anything that may have been in contact with it. Keep children away from contaminated areas during cleanup operations.
Re-entering the home or building
- Use extreme caution when returning to the home or building.
- Make sure the building is structurally safe.
- Look for buckled walls or floors.
- Watch for holes in the floor, broken glass and other potentially dangerous debris.
- If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter the home until a qualified electrician has determined it is safe to do so.
- Only use a flashlight to inspect for damage.
- Photograph all damage for insurance purposes.
- Dispose of all contaminated foods.
- Drain floodwaters in the basement slowly, one-third of the volume per day.
- The main electrical panel must be cleaned, dried and tested by a qualified electrician to ensure that it is safe – also, have the furnace and chimney inspected by an HVAC company.
- Appliances that may have been flooded pose a risk of shock or fire when turned on. Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure or sewage system until electrical components have been thoroughly cleaned, dried and inspected by a qualified electrician.
- Floodwater can be heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants. It can cause sickness and infections.
- If through colour, odour or taste, drinking water is suspected to be contaminated, do not drink it.
- Household items that have been water damaged will have to be discarded according to local regulations.
Recommended flood cleanup equipment
- Gloves, masks and other protective gear
- Pails, mops and squeegees
- Plastic garbage bags
- Large containers for soaking bedding, clothing and linens, and clotheslines to hang them to dry
- Fans, heaters, wet/dry vacuums and dehumidifiers