Marie-Claude Dulac

By Marie-Claude Dulac

April 19, 2018


How to Minimize Damage in the Event of a Flood

Article revised on 19 April 2018

Think you’re safe from floods? What if you’re wrong? Over the last few years in Quebec, areas once considered not to be at risk of flooding have been affected by floods. If flooding occurred in your area, would your home be prepared to deal with it? Would your home insurance cover property damage due to flooding? Here’s what you need to know.

Ask your insurer

Until very recently, no flood insurance coverage (known as “overflow of a body of water” in insurance jargon) was available for individuals in Quebec.

Many insurers, including La Capitale, now offer coverages that vary based on the risk level to which buildings are exposed. This means that buildings located in low or medium risk areas may be eligible for flood insurance coverage, but those located in high-risk flood areas may not be eligible for coverage.

To find out exactly what it entails, ask your home insurer:

  • Does it now offer flood insurance coverage?
  • If so, is your residence eligible?
  • Has the coverage already been added to your home insurance contract?
  • Does the coverage level meet your needs?

Whether you live in a flood-risk area or not, here are a few precautions you can take to be sure you’re not caught off guard and to reduce the damage in the event of a flood.

1. Use water resistant materials in your basement

When you move into your house or renovate your basement, opt for materials that help prevent mold. It’s also important to properly seal the basement’s windows, which is primarily how water would seep into your house.

2. Fasten any tanks or central heating unit located in your basement or outside

Make sure they are firmly in place. This way, there is less risk of them getting knocked over or moved and causing a spill or damage to your other property.

3. Secure your water flow

Here’s how you can limit water seepage through sewers or drains.

  • Install non-return valves. According to the Corporation des maîtres mécaniciens en tuyauterie du Québec (CMMTQ) (in French only), it’s the best way to prevent sewer back-ups.
  • If you own a submersible pump, you must have it cleaned and inspected every year to make sure it remains in good working order. If your pump includes an auxiliary unit, don’t forget to have it checked too, including the battery, to make sure it remains in good working order in the event of a power outage.

4. Set up your basement to limit damage

  • Don’t store any valuable property in your basement.
  • Try not to store any items directly on the floor.
  • Elevate your furniture and electrical appliances.
  • Your basement is not finished? It might not be such a bad idea to simply leave it as is! It’s a good way to limit damage and financial loss resulting from a flood.

5. Arrange your property to direct water away from foundations

To avoid water accumulation on your land and limit leaks into your basement,

  • make sure the land around your home slopes slightly downward for at least six meters.
  • Opt for native or flood-resistant plants to prevent ground erosion.

Know what to do during periods of high flood risk

As soon as bodies of water close to your residence start being monitored by authorities, prepare for a possible disaster.

1. Make sure you have the required material handy

  • You should own a complete emergency kit, stored in a place that is easy to access and protected from the elements.
  • Gather essential articles you would need in the event of an evacuation such as hygiene products, medication, baby food if you have a baby, etc.

2. Stay informed

  • Stay on top of the situation by following the news in your area.
  • Monitor your municipality’s and Urgence Québec’s websites or social media feeds to stay well informed on the developing situation and what steps you should take.
  • If your home is located in a flood-risk area, regularly check the ministère de la Sécurité publique website to learn about the water levels and flow in your area.
  • If you live close to the St. Lawrence, consult the Tides Table provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

3. Shut off any electricity, gas or oil supply BEFORE water enters your residence

If water starts seeping into your home and you haven’t shut off the power, immediately contact Hydro-Québec. As for gas and oil tanks, you need to contact a specialist to re-open them after the disaster.

4. Protect your property and prevent it from causing additional damage

As soon as the risk of your basement getting flooded appears more likely,

  • move as many objects as possible to the floors above, including chemical or dangerous products
  • Survey your land and pick up or anchor whatever could be washed away with the flood
  • Barricade the windows that face the river with wooden planks.

5. As much as possible, prevent water from entering and rising

  • Place sandbags and extra linings to protect the entrances and openings through which water can enter into your home.
  • Make sure your non-return valve or sump pump is in good working order.
  • If you don’t own a non-return valve, Urgence Québec recommends blocking sewer lines and the basement drain.

Always follow instructions from civil or municipal authorities. They aim to keep you and your family safe. Once the water levels return to normal, wait for the authorities’ okay before you return home. Since this can be a stressful experience, consult our guide on the subject.


Additional resources:

Floods: 6 Tips for a Safe Return Home

Government of Canada – Flood ready

Urgence Québec – Before a disaster

Urgence Québec – Flooding

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