What to do before
Prepare an emergency kit .
Prepare a family safety plan .
Check to see if your home is in a flood-prone area (French only).
If you live beside the St. Lawrence River, pay close attention to weather forecasts so that you can react quickly when conditions deteriorate.
Learn about measures you can take to protect yourself.
Check whether your home insurance covers flooding.
In the event of a flood warning
If you live near a waterway, monitor water levels and flow rates on the Vigilance website (French only).
If you live beside the St. Lawrence River, check the tide tables .
Follow your municipality and Urgence Québec social media feeds and consult local media outlets for information about the current situation and steps to be taken.
In the event of a storm surge or high wave warning, cover windows facing the river with wood panels.
Move basement or main floor items to the top floor.
Safely store chemical or harmful products, such as insecticides and waste oil residue, and make sure these are out of reach of children.
Block all basement sewer conduits if they are not protected by a check valve.
Block the basement drain.
Remove or secure all mobile items in the yard to prevent them from being thrown or swept away.
If water threatens to enter your home, cut the power and turn off the gas to eliminate the risk of electrocution and fire.
Shut off the main gas valve, make sure all propane tanks are tightly closed and shut off the tap near the outlet valve on the oil tank.
Install sandbags and polyethylene membranes in front of all entrances and openings, such as doors, garages and wells, when the municipality so advises. Contact the municipality to learn where to obtain sandbags and follow the instructions in the Installer une digue de sacs de sable (PDF 70 Kb) guide (French only).
What to do during
Monitor the situation as it changes and obey instructions issued by official sources of information (e.g., your municipality and the Gouvernement du Québec).
Inform the authorities of any dangerous situation (e.g., heavy objects carried off by the floodwaters).
Electricity and natural gas
Be careful! If water enters your home, do not shut off the power yourself. Contact Hydro-Québec immediately to disconnect the service.
If you smell gas or if your natural gas equipment is visibly damaged, call the emergency services number for your natural gas provider.
If you are using a generator, follow the instructions for its installation and use .
Be careful of carbon monoxide
Never use devices designed for outdoor use (e.g., charcoal or gas barbecues and camping equipment) inside the home. These devices can cause poisoning from carbon monoxide, an invisible and odourless gas. Breathing carbon monoxide can be dangerous for one’s health and even cause death.
Only a carbon monoxide detector can detect the presence of this gas and warn you. If your detector sounds a warning, leave the building immediately. Dial 911. Wait for the authorization of a firefighter before returning indoors, even for a few minutes.
Water consumption and use
Take certain precautions before consuming or using water.
- Assume that water from the municipal waterworks is safe unless you receive a notice to the contrary from municipal officials. In case of doubt with respect to water colour, odour or taste, contact municipal officials before drinking it.
- If you have a personal well, you must assume that the water is undrinkable even if it appears clear and is odourless. Until you can determine whether your well water is safe to drink, boil it vigorously for one minute before drinking it, or drink bottled water.
- If you suspect chemical contamination, do not drink the water. Moreover, boiling water exposed to chemical contamination, especially to hydrocarbons, is not recommended. In this situation, bottled water is the only solution.
Food and medications
In the event of a power outage, verify that food has not spoiled before consuming it. Throw out any food that shows signs of deterioration. Consult Panne de courant et alimentation - quoi garder et quoi jeter (French only) for information on deciding what to keep and what to throw out from your refrigerator and freezer.
For the same reason, do not take any medications that are to be stored in a cool place but could not be. Return them to the pharmacy.
Take the necessary precautions to ensure that your septic system meets applicable standards (French only).
Evacuation and travel
Leave your home if you are in danger or at the request of the authorities. If you don't know where to go, contact your municipality. For more information, see the Evacuation page .
Before leaving, pack essential items for all members of your family:
- Personal hygiene items
- Extra clothes
- Identification documents
- Car and house keys
- Milk, bottles and diapers for infants
- Electronic devices and accessories for connecting them
- Items for the wellbeing of family members with special needs
See that domestic animals are safe or bring them to a service centre for people in a disaster if that is allowed.
Avoid walking and driving on flooded streets. If you need to take a vehicle, drive carefully and consider abandoning your vehicle if the motor stalls.
Before setting out, check road conditions on Québec 511 website or call 511.
Advise family or friends, as well as municipal officials, of where you intend to take shelter.
Keep in touch with loved ones, preferably by text messaging, email and social media so as to leave the telephone system free for urgent calls and calls from emergency workers.
What to do after
You may return to your home when officials have given their permission and it is safe to do so. Return home during the day when it is easier to see problems and hazards. Visit the government’s reintegration page for important advice and safety recommendations.
Make a list of damage caused by the water and take photos or videos as proof:
- Notify your municipality, insurance company and mortgage lender of the damage.
- For claim purposes, retain all receipts or proof of purchase for damaged goods.
Notify municipal officials of any problems on your property (e.g., cracks or bulges on a slope, crumbling earth or unusual flow patterns on a bank) to prevent the risk of landslide.
Pay attention to stress reactions after a disaster:
- Apathy or loss of energy
- Increased alcohol or drug use
Appropriate psychological guidance can help you cope with responsibilities stemming from the situation. Contact Info-Santé at 811 and select Info-Social to speak with a social worker. This confidential service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Electricity and natural gas
If the power has been turned off by Hydro-Québec, only a master electrician can request that it be restored.
If the home was not flooded, Hydro-Québec will conduct an onsite inspection before restoring power. Contact Hydro-Québec to make the request.
If the power has not been turned off but water has infiltrated the home, consult a master electrician before restoring power. The electrician will assess the condition of your electrical system and make any repairs required to restore it to good working order.
Consult an expert before reconnecting heating appliances.
Consult a contractor with a natural gas qualification certificate before reconnecting equipment that uses natural gas .
Verify that your water is safe to drink. In case of doubt with respect to water colour, odour or taste, contact municipal officials before drinking it.
Food and medications
If the power has been off more than six hours, check the quality of food before eating it. Throw out any food with signs of deterioration. Consult Panne de courant et alimentation - quoi garder et quoi jeter (French only) for information on deciding what to keep and what to throw out from your refrigerator and freezer.
Throw out any food stored at room temperature that has been in contact with the flood waters (e.g., canned food, peanut butter, muffins and crackers).
Follow these instructions before eating canned food:
- Inspect the cans and throw out any that are damaged. This includes cans that are swollen, leak, have been punctured or have a hole, are broken, or are excessively rusty. It also includes cans that have been crushed or bent to the point that they cannot be stacked normally or opened with a manual can-opener.
- Wash, rinse and dry canned food before opening.
- After opening canned food, check that the contents appear normal.
- Do not take medications that have remained in a refrigerator without electricity for more than six hours. Return them to the pharmacy.
- Do not take medications that have been in contact with flood waters or whose packaging show signs of water damage. In case of doubt, consult a pharmacist.
Garden fruit and vegetables
If your garden has been flooded, throw out any fruit, vegetables and herbs that grow above ground, such as strawberries and lettuce. Carefully wash root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.
Cleaning the home
When the water has receded or as soon as you return to your home after an evacuation, clean your home thoroughly, disinfecting and drying all objects and surfaces. This will prevent the formation of mould and many other problems that could adversely affect your health.
Cleaning the yard
Attention! Never approach a downed power line. Call 911 immediately. When a line touches the ground, the risk of live wire and nearby ground is high.
Carefully remove all debris from your yard.
If you spot a telecommunication company cable or wire on the ground, contact the company.
Ask your municipality about permits required before proceeding with any backfilling, excavation or work to stabilize a riverbank.
Manage your residual materials in accordance with standards in effect.
If you need to dispose of a dead animal (e.g., a fish washed ashore), proceed as follows:
- Handling the dead animal with a shovel or disposable gloves, place it in a heavy-duty plastic bag. Close the bag tightly and place it in a second bag. Now close the second bag tightly as well.
- Place the double bags in the container you usually use for waste collection services.
- Now clean whatever you used to handle the animal and wash your hands with soap and hot water.
- Contact your municipality if you come across a dead animal too large to place in a plastic bag.
Never drive a flood-damaged road vehicle , including a motorcycle or recreational vehicle (RV, trailer).
Find out whether you are eligible for financial assistance
The health recommendations concerning COVID-19 announced by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux also apply in the case of flooding.
Toolkit for municipalities
Should flooding occur, municipalities are in close contact with their communities, which makes it considerably easier to communicate reliable official information. For this reason, we have made available various tools (French only) to support you in communicating with citizens.
Guidelines for municipalities concerning the construction of sand dykes and water barriers
During the COVID-19 pandemic, municipal officials need to ensure that efforts to protect goods and people in the event of flooding comply with public health recommendations intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In this regard, the Organisation de la sécurité civile du Québec (OSCQ) is recommending specific work techniques (PDF 1.62 Mb) (French only) that municipalities can implement for building sand dykes and water barriers.
Other useful links
Guide – What to do before, during and after a flood (PDF 1.17 Mb) This guide sets out prevention tips and recommendations from various Gouvernement du Québec ministries and organizations intended to ensure your safety.
Feuillet – Se préparer à une inondation (PDF 1.16 Mb) (French only) This leaflet is intended to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for flooding. It offers various safety recommendations.
- Feuillet – Rétablissement (PDF 106 Kb) (French only) This leaflet explains the main steps in the process to be taken by victims of a natural disaster in applying for financial assistance from the Ministère de la Sécurité publique.
- Civil security emergency 24/7 (French only)
Last update: June 5, 2020