You've received a flood alert from your Floodie companion sensor. Now what?
- Remove children and pets from the area.
- Don't use any facilities or appliances -- especially if water-based --until everything has been inspected and the source has been determined; you may accidentally add to the issue.
- Call your insurance agency.
The sooner the better; they can help evaluate the situation and may have specific guidelines for claims or partnerships that they prefer you to use for cleanup. Take lots of photos and keep any receipts.
- Consider calling a professional if there's extensive flooding.
Plumbers, electricians, and cleanup and restoration specialists may be the way to go, depending on the damage.
- Report the issue to the city.
Alerting the city officials can help them track issues and determine priorities for municipal maintenance.
Floods can be caused in many different ways: burst pipes, damaged foundation, backed-up sewage lines, broken or clogged gutters, storms, melting snow, unsealed windows...
How you react depends on the severity of situation when you arrive at your property. We've pulled together the top suggestions from the Government of Canada, City of Toronto, American Home Shield, and Utilities Kingston. Please evaluate the environment before taking any action.
Here's some general advice about what to do if...
Tips to avoid floods in the future:
- Once it has spread, water could contain contaminants from within your home (corrosive cleaning agents) or outside (irritants, bacteria, waterborne diseases), depending on the origin of the issue. Dispose of any consumable products (food, drinks, hygiene products, medicine) that has come into contact with the flood water.
- There is also a risk of electrocution if the water has risen above outlets, baseboard heaters, near the electrical panel, etc. If you suspect that water may have risen near that level, do not enter the water. Contact your utilities provider and have them cut power to your property.
- There may also be some danger of a gas leak. Natural gas appliances (furnace, boilers, water heaters, dryers, etc.) exposed to water are not safe to use. If you smell any gas --often described as smelling like rotten eggs, sulphur, or garbage--, leave your property and call your service provider.
If you're arriving at the property after the event, please remember that facilities, utilities, and appliances should not be used without being properly inspected. Just because they appear to be dry now, doesn't mean they avoided water damage at some point.
- If the water is clean or coming from the upper levels of the house, the issue is likely a burst pipe or faulty appliance (dish water, washing machine). Shut off the valve to the appliance if known, or the main water valve if you're unsure of the source.
- If it is dirty water gathering in your basement, it may be from rainfall or a sewage back up.
- If the flood is caused by rainfall, wait until the storm has passed before cleaning up the water.
- Make sure the area is free of hazardous material and tread carefully.
- Check for structural issues; if the structural integrity of the area has been compromised, do not go in; call professionals.
- Shut off your electricity, the main water valve to the property, and propane (if applicable)
- Open your windows to ventilate the area.
- Move valuable items away from the flooded area. The quicker they're removed, the better your odds are of avoiding mildew, mold, and warping. Thoroughly clean and disinfect anything you plan to keep.
- Throw away items like books, cardboard boxes, cosmetics, baby toys, pillows, mattresses, and anything consumable (food, medicine, etc.) that has been in flood water.
- Keep a list, noting what can be saved and what will have to be thrown away. Take pictures for anything you may need to claim with your insurance.
- Make sure electronics are properly inspected and completely dry before plugging them in again. However, if they were flooded, most electrical items should be replaced, including outlets, switches, fixtures, and wiring.
- Remove rugs and furniture from the damp area. It's best to place them outside to dry, weather permitting. Otherwise, pick a dry, ventilated area; use a de-humidifier and fans if necessary. Let them dry for at least 48 hours. They may also need to be professionally cleaned, depending on their exposure.
- If you have drains nearby, make sure they are not blocked, clogged, or backed up.
- Begin bailing out water, being careful to dispose of it where it won't simply drain back into your property. Use your sump pump, mops, buckets, sponges, wet /dry vacs, old rags, and towels to help remove the excess water.
- Completely dry and disinfect anythings that cannot be moved: floors, walls, furnace, etc.
- Flooring, trim, dry wall, insulation that has absorbed the flood water should be replaced.
- Smaller items that have been damaged may be able to go out with the regular garbage pickup. Larger items will likely need to go to the dump.
- Keep the path to the shut off valves and electricity clear; it can save valuable time in an emergency
- Use weather protection sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors
- Consider window wells and window-well covers
- Maintain your eaves-troughs and downspouts; consider using an eaves-trough extension if it drains too near your home
- Seal cracks and holes in your foundation walls and floor
- Keep drains clear of clutter
- Consider changing or upgrading your foundation drainage system
- Install a sump pump
- Install a backwater / backflow sanitary valve
- Consider landscaping your property to avoid surface or ground water around your home
- Keep the nearest public catch basins free of debris
- Place Floodies anywhere that's susceptible to leaks or floods
- Reduce water use during heavy rainfall
- Keep important documents stored on higher levels of the home instead of your basement. Otherwise, store them in watertight containers
- Keep electronics and other items raised off the floor whenever possible
- Store chemical cleaning agents and other toxic raised off the ground
- Avoid pouring fats, oils, and grease into sinks or drains
- Do not flush trash, dental floss, or other personal care or hygiene products (including "flushable wipes") down the toilet.