What to do during a flood
Depending on the severity of the situation, you may need to take certain actions to ensure the safety of yourself, your family and the protection of your belongings.
Follow the evolution of the situation
Follow the evolution of the situation from official sources of information and respect the instructions and recommendations given by the authorities.
- Consult the websites and follow the social media accounts of the authorities involved in the event (e.g., your municipality, Urgence Québec and the Gouvernement du Québec).
- Sign up for your municipality's alert service to receive important information.
Inform the authorities of any dangerous situation (e.g., heavy objects carried off by the floodwaters).
Protect your electrical, gas and septic systems
In the event of a flood, follow these tips to protect your devices and facilities and ensure your safety.
Electricity and natural gas
Take the necessary precautions with your electrical and gas installations.
- If the flood cannot be prevented but water has not yet started coming into the basement
- Cut the power to the whole house to prevent any risk of electric shock or fire by doing the following. Make sure you aren’t standing on a wet floor or leaning on anything made of metal. Flip the main breaker off.
- If water has started coming into the basement
- Don’t touch anything! Call Hydro-Québec right away at 1 800 790-2424 to interrupt 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
- If you are using a generator, follow the instructions for its installation and use.
Follow these tips when using fuel-burning appliances (e.g., auxiliary heating, charcoal or gas barbecues, camping equipment, non-electrical pumps and generators powered by gasoline). These appliances can release carbon monoxide, a toxic, odorless, colorless and potentially deadly gas.
- Never use outdoor appliances indoors.
- Never operate your appliances in an enclosed area, even with the door open.
- Never obstruct an appliance’s air intake or exhaust system.
- Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector.
If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off or if you experience symptoms of poisoning (e.g., headache, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, dizziness), do the following:
- Go outside and dial 911.
- Don’t go back inside, even for a few minutes, until authorized to do so by a firefighter.
Turn off the electrical systems that power the water treatment systems.
Do not empty your septic tank or retention tanks, as this could damage the structures.
Avoid using treatment systems to prevent possible backflow of wastewater into the residence.
Consult the manufacturer’s guides or contact them for recommendations if the installation includes an NQ 3680-910 certified treatment system.
Avoid or minimize contact with floodwater.
Make sure that the water is safe to drink
Take precautions before consuming or using water.
- If your home water comes from a drinking water distribution system
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 your home water comes from a private well
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.
If the power has been off more than six hours, check the quality of food before eating it. Throw out any food that shows signs of deterioration. Consult Store or throw away your food after a power outage or flood (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 must be stored in a cool place but were not. Return them to the pharmacy.
Leave your home if you are in danger or at the request of the authorities. If you are unsure where to go, contact your municipality.
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
Keep your pets safe or take them to the place where you are temporarily housed, if permitted. If you leave your home without bringing your pets, indicate their presence on the main door of your home to inform first responders.
Respect the signage in place and the safety perimeters established by the authorities.
Avoid travelling on flooded roads either on foot or in a vehicle. If you must use a vehicle, drive carefully and do not hesitate to abandon it if the engine stalls.
Last update: April 16, 2023