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How to deal with floods

Floods are a common – and often costly – natural hazard in Ontario that can happen at any time of year. Overland water flooding can be caused by melting snow, ice jams, fresh-water hurricanes, breaking dams and heavy rainfall that oversaturates the ground. Summer thunderstorms in particular can pose a major flood risk in Canada.

Overland water flooding can leave you and your family at risk for serious injury, and your property at risk for extensive damages. Below are some tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe and mitigate potential losses from overland water flooding before, during and after the flood occurs.

What you should do before a flood:

  • Know your risk. It’s important to know the overland water flooding risk in your community. You can determine what your area’s flood risk is by calling your municipality.

  • Make a plan. You and your family should map out a safe evacuation route from your property to higher ground in the event of a flash flood. This evacuation route should be known by every member of the family and practiced regularly.

  • Stay informed. Pay attention to local weather alerts and follow evacuation instructions if necessary. If you have a smartphone, consider signing up for emergency weather alert notifications so you’ll be notified of potential flooding risks immediately.

  • Protect your valuables. Secure valuables in waterproof containers and store the containers away from high-risk flood areas, such as the basement. Try to keep large appliances above potential flood water levels as well.

  • Protect your property. While it’s difficult to keep your home entirely safe from flood damages, there are some precautions you can take to mitigate potential losses:

    • Have your roof inspected every few years and replace shingles if necessary.

    • Make sure your eavestroughs are cleared of blockages and are draining properly.

    • Install a backwater valve to close automatically if the sewer backs up.

    • If your basement has a sump pump, test it regularly to ensure it is functioning properly.

    • Ensure window wells are clear of debris and blockages, and put sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.

What you should do during a flood:

  • Stay alert. Pay attention to local radio and television stations for flood warnings and reports. Review your evacuation plan with everyone present on your property, should the need for immediate evacuation arise.

  • Be cautious. Stay away from flood waters, which can be much deeper than they appear. Ensure children and pets stay clear as well. Wait to hear for further instructions from officials before returning home.

 What you should do after a flood:

  • Wait for the all-clear. Do not return to your property until you have been advised by officials that it is safe to do so. Minimize your contact with flood water during cleanup by wearing protective clothing, such as rubber boots, safety glasses, rubber gloves and a dust mask.

  • Contact your insurance broker. As soon as the safety of you and your family members is secured you should contact your insurance broker immediately and let them know what happened. Your broker will be able to advise you on your next steps based on how the flooding occurred, what kinds of water damage your policy provides coverage for and what your coverage limits are.

If you would like to learn more about coverage for overland water flooding caused by rivers and lakes, spring thaw or heavy rainfall contact an OTIP insurance broker at 1-888-892-4935.

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