The Ultimate Flood Preparation Checklist

Lauren Wellbank
Written by Lauren Wellbank
Updated April 1, 2022
rainbow over white house
Photo: deepblue4you / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Stay prepared for potential water emergencies using this handy guide

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Storms can be scary, but creating a checklist for what you should do now and in the days leading up to a potential flood can help ease some of your worries—and even save you some cleanup down the line.

What You Should Do Well in Advance

Whether you live in a water-prone area or just like to play it safe, there are some steps you can take around your property right now that will help if water breaches your home. 

  • Make sure all of your valuables are on higher ground. This includes moving keepsakes in your basement to shelves, keeping electronics off the floor, and elevating or moving the furniture in your home’s lower level.

  • Waterproof your basement. Limit the amount of water entering your home’s lowest level by sealing any cracks with an adhesive or liquid rubber.

  • Clear leaves and debris from your gutters and downspouts. Or hire a local gutter cleaning professional who can help keep debris from backing up and causing water to pool around the foundation of your home.

  • Figure out the best evacuation route to get from your home to higher ground and an alternative in case your planned path becomes inaccessible.

  • Check your insurance policy for flood-related riders. Not every policy covers water damage, so double-check what it will cover and call your insurance agent to review your belongings and the potential cost to replace them.

What to Do Ahead of Storms

family preparing emergency backpack
Photo: David Pereiras / Adobe Stock

If the local weatherperson is calling for heavy storms, you can do a few things in the days ahead to help prepare. 

  • Create a go-bag with important documents (like your driver’s license, homeowners insurance policy, and birth certificates) in case you have to leave your home in a hurry. If you have pets, pack their most recent vaccination information as well. Don’t forget to include any daily medication that you or your family take. A first aid kit can also be helpful.

  • Create an evacuation plan so you and loved ones know where to go and what to do if separated. Appoint an out-of-state relative as your main point of contact, and have each family member memorize their phone number. If cellphones become lost or damaged, everyone will have one number to remain in touch with each other. 

  • Have everything you’ll need to weather the storm at home, including bottled waters, non-perishable food, flashlights or other alternative light sources, and a home generator if you live in an area that is prone to flooding but your home often remains dry. 

  • See if there are any organizations in your community looking for support. You can offer to check in on older adults or help fill sandbags for the community.

  • Make sure your emergency radio has batteries or is fully charged—and keep extra batteries on hand.

  • Freeze water bottles. You can use these later to help keep food and other perishables cold, and you’ll also have cool drinking water as they melt.

  • Fill up your vehicle with gas in case you need to make a long drive.

What to Do During a Storm

mother helps get kids out the door for emergency
Photo: doble-d / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

A storm can be anxiety-inducing, but remaining calm will help you get through it. If you’ve created a plan, remember to stick with it. Never enter floodwater if you can avoid it.

  • Stay alert and listen to your local news to keep on top of weather developments.

  • Pay close attention to road closure or flash flooding alerts. Road conditions can change quickly in a storm. Avoid these areas if you are forced to flee your home.

  • Keep your flood go-bag by the door so you remember to take it if you have to evacuate quickly.

  • Turn around and choose an alternate route when you encounter flooded-out roadways. Cars can be rendered immobile in as little as 6 inches of rain.

What to Do After a Storm

After the storm has passed, you’ll need to assess any damage and make a plan for cleanups. 

  • Avoid going into a basement with standing water. You run the risk of being shocked by electrical currents. Instead, wait to check on damage until the storm has passed, and call a plumber or water remediation pro later to help you deal with the water. 

  • Call your local utility company to notify them of downed power lines or power outages.

  • Contact your insurance company to discuss any property damage and the next steps for making repairs.

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