Find out what to do after a flood

  1. Insurance
  2. Returning home
  3. How to clean your home

If you live in a flood-prone area, you should create a flood recovery plan. A recovery plan will help you and your home get back to normal after a flood.

Read the Canadian Red Cross Guide to Flood Recovery. It provides step-by-step instructions on what to do after you've been evacuated due to a flood.

Click here to download a printable handout containing the information on this webpage. Here are some key steps:

  1. Insurance

    Before you start the cleanup, phone your insurance company.

    • Provide them with as much detailed information as possible.
    • List all damaged or destroyed items.
    • If possible, gather proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties.
    • Keep all receipts related to the cleanup and your living expenses if you've been displaced.

    If there's damage to the structure of your home, ask your insurance company about getting a professional inspection.

  2. Returning home
    • Do not return home until authorities say it's safe to do so.
    • If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter your home. Wait until a qualified electrician has determined it's safe for you.
    • Check for any damage to electrical or gas equipment that the floodwater may have caused.
    • Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure systems or sewage systems. Wait until a qualified electrician has thoroughly cleaned, dried and inspected electrical components.
    • If water needs to be drained, do it slowly, draining about 1/3 of the water a day. This ensures the structure of your home will not buckle.
    • Do not heat your home above the outside temperature until all water has been removed.
    • Ensure the regular water supply has been inspected and officially declared safe for use. If your house was flooded and you have a private well, do not drink the water. Wait until it's been tested.
    • Find out what to do when your private well has flooded.
    • Learn how to get your drinking water tested.
    • Learn how to disinfect your drinking water well.
    • Find out what to do if your sewage system flooded.

  3. How to clean your home

    Once floodwaters have receded, you should not live in your house until:

    • every flood-contaminated room has been thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and surface-dried; and
    • all contaminated dishes and utensils have been thoroughly washed and disinfected, either by using:
      • boiling water; or
      • a sterilizing solution.

    Cleaning up after a flood poses health risks.

    You may see or smell mould on:

    • clothing;
    • drywall;
    • furniture;
    • cardboard boxes; or
    • books.

    Mould may also be hidden under or behind items such as carpets, cushions or walls.

    Before you begin cleaning up

    1. Open all interior and exterior doors and windows. This allows air to flow freely through the space.
    2. Scrub all washable surfaces with a household bleach solution or unscented soap. Be sure to use personal protective equipment when you're cleaning after a flood. This will protect you from any mould or residue that may be present.

    Recommended items for cleanup

    • Pails
    • Mops
    • Sponges
    • Garbage bags
    • Masks or goggles
    • Protective rubber gloves
    • Waterproof rubber boots
    • Dish detergent
    • Household bleach

    What to discard

    Discard anything that has been exposed to flood water, such as:

    • insulation materials;
    • particleboard furniture;
    • mattresses and box springs;
    • stuffed toys;
    • pillows;
    • padding;
    • cushions;
    • furniture coverings;
    • all wet drywall, up to at least 30 centimetres (12 inches) above the flood water level; and
    • perishable foods, foods or medicines packaged in cardboard, plastic, or jars (you can keep undamaged canned goods).

    For more detailed information about flood cleanup, read the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation guide.