Whether from a heavy rainfall, broken dam or overflowing river, flooding is a very real danger for homeowners. According to data from Prevention Web, floods have been the most common form of natural disaster to strike Canada over the last 20 years. In both urban centers and rural areas, homeowners need to protect their families and properties from this threat.

Be proactive

The worst time to start focusing on flood damage prevention is after a catastrophic event. You should do everything possible to flood-proof your home before disaster strikes. If you have a basement or ground-level doors and windows, that means properly sealing them to keep water out of your house and other buildings. It's also essential to make sure downspouts are draining properly, a safe distance from structures and heading away, rather than toward them.

In the event that water does make its way inside, or near ground-level doors and windows, investing in a sump pump or zero reverse flow valves is a good way to drain water quickly before it has a chance to do serious damage.

Basements often take the brunt of flood devastation. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, it's worth remembering that basements are vulnerable places. That may not make the space ideal for storing important documents or expensive furniture. Rule of thumb when it comes to keeping valuables dry: the higher, the better. Since the first floor of a home is obviously at greater risk of flooding than the second, consider this when decisions about where your possessions should go.

Creating an emergency kit is also a good idea. By anticipating what may be needed in the event of a flood -- clean water, flashlights, food -- you will be better prepared for the worst.

Most importantly, you should develop a plan of action for your family, just as you would to ensure personal safety in the event of a fire. Your household should know what to do, and where to go, if flooding occurs.

What else should I do?
While the safety of yourself and your family should always come first when flooding is imminent, there are some other tips that can help minimize damage to your home.

If time allows, you may be able to mitigate flooding by placing sandbags around the perimeter of your property to create a barrier between your home and the water. If it’s at all possible, turn off furnaces, gas valves and electricity to prevent electrocution or further damage from explosions and other disruptions. Finally, if you have any substances or electric appliances that could become dangerous when exposed to water, move them to higher ground.

While protecting a home is important, it is also necessary to understand that real-time conditions are going to dictate your moves in the event of a flood. If local authorities issue an evacuation call, it should be heeded immediately. Personal safety should always take precedence over possessions. TVs and couches can be replaced, but a human life cannot.

In the event of an evacuation, follow the specific routes laid out by officials, avoiding shortcuts that may lead you into dangerous areas.

Even if you think your home is safe from the threat of flooding, it’s noteworthy that 30 percent of annual flood claims are submitted by homeowners who reside in low- to moderate-risk areas. Connect with a HUB specialist to learn more about your individual exposure and coverage options. Or, get more resources and subscribe to our Crisis Management Center to better protect you, your family and your home.