Flood Preparedness: What To Do Before, During, And After A Flood?

Flooding is the temporary overflow of water on normally dry land. A flood can be a result of snow, rain, storm surges, dam failure, or overflow of rivers and can be dangerous when they occur. To ensure flood safety, we help you know how to prepare for floods, what to do during flooding, and what to do after a flood.

How To Prepare For A Flood?

If living in a flood-risk area, you should know how to be prepared for a flood to be safe. Flood preparation is ideal as flooding can occur minutes or hours after a containment system break or storm. Preparation will include flood watches and warnings by paying attention to the weather changes and flood conditions. You can learn the evacuation routes and shelter plans as part of your flood preparedness plan.

Flood Preparedness Plan/Checklist

The flood risks in your locality will dictate how you prepare for floods before and after. One of the options to achieve this is to have a flood preparedness checklist as follows:

  • Know your risk
  • Identify where you will go and who to call
  • Put your kit together
  • Have an emergency plan
  • Check your insurance
  • Listen to your local radio for updates

Flood Preparedness Kit

Preparing for floods calls for you to have the following:

  • Water to last you a few days after the evacuation
  • Nonperishable food such as dried foods and canned food
  • Battery powered radio
  • Battery powered flashlight
  • Manual can opener
  • First aid kit
  • Spare keys to your house and car
  • Special items like medication and equipment for persons with disabilities
  • A copy of your emergency plan for the flood

What To Do Before A Flood?

Before a flood, you should do the following:

  • Get alerts and flood safety precautions before, during, and after emergencies.
  • Explore the FEMA flood map to check if your locality is at risk of floods and what can people do to prepare for a flood.
  • Contact your Emergency Management Director for your community to learn if you live or work downstream from a dam and what can people do to prepare for floods.
  • Review your family emergency plan to know how to prepare for flooding better.
  • Prepare an emergency kit and a communication plan for your family
  • Avoid a floodplain until you elevate or reinforce your home
  • Prepare for flooding by taking photos and videos of your property and store in a safe place.
  • Elevate your home’s water heater, furnace, and electric panel if living in a high flood-risk area.
  • Install check valves to prevent the backflow of flood water into your home drainage.
  • Construct barriers near your buildings and seal walls in basements.

What To Do During A Flood?

Knowing what to do during a flood will help you stay safe, especially in a high-risk flood area. You should listen to the radio to know the flood updates and learn what happens during a flood and get updated on the affected areas, safe roads, where to relocate to, and what to do should the emergency team request that you leave your home.

If asked to evacuate, carry your flood preparedness kit with you and follow the routes advised by the officials. You can also inform others of your relocation by leaving a note in your mailbox.

Whether walking or driving, knowing what to do in case of flood can save your life. Generally, avoid fast water if walking, as this could sweep you. If driving, avoid crossing bridges with high water flowing quickly. If fast waters catch up with you, leave your car and save yourself and your passengers. Lastly, beware of flash flooding and relocate to higher ground in advance.

What To Do After A Flood?

While the floodwaters may be low after flooding, some dangers still exist, and you should be cautious. Therefore, here is what you should do after a flood.

  • Continue monitoring the media to know what you should do after a flood.
  • Follow the safety flood procedure by the public safety officials.
  • If you evacuate, only return home after authorities confirm it is safe.
  • Call 911 for emergencies, gas leaks, and downed power lines.

Your safety during and after a flood is important. To be safe after flooding:

  • Avoid moving water.
  • Stay off the roads to allow emergency workers to assist people.
  • Stay updated for local information and warnings, as flash floods can occur.
  • Stay away from damaged buildings and affected roads.
  • Avoid downed utility wires.
  • Only stay on firm ground.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flooded walkways and roads. Such areas may contain animal limbs and broken bottles or be too slippery.
  • Avoid areas where flood waters have just receded, as the roads will likely collapse under the car’s weight.
  • Be cautious when entering buildings after flooding, which could have hidden damages.

Flood Warnings: How Will I Know About A Flood Warning?

Understanding the types of flooding, such as flash floods, river floods, and coastal floods, will help you be alert and more aware if you are in a flood-risk zone. You can contact your local emergency management office for flood warnings and flood safety tips. Also, visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center using your home address to know your flood risks and what to do if there is a flood.

What States Are Most At Risk Of Flooding?

The flooding risk is increasing over the years in the US. States that are at higher risk include New Jersey, New York, California, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Arkansas. [Source]

Cleaning Up & Repairing After Flooding

Cleaning and repair should only resume if the authorities confirm it is safe to return to your residence after a flood. You should contact your insurance for claims to help with repair after cleaning. To effectively do this, take photos or videos of your property, and have a record of your expenses and other requirements for successful claims.

During cleaning, take flood safety precautions by wearing protective clothing to clean contaminated areas of your home. You should also have your wells checked for contamination before you resume use. Finally, avoid contact with standing or moving floodwaters as they could be contaminated by gasoline, oil, or raw sewage.

What To Do In A Flash Flood?

Your home or business can become a flash flood casualty, creating the need to know what to do during a flash flood and how to survive a flash flood. Here are flash flood safety tips:

  • Follow the news on TV or radio for safety information.
  • Turn off your home utilities, including gas and power, to prevent electric shocks as the water rises.
  • Avoid drinking well or tap water until it is declared safe for consumption.
  • Avoid flood-damaged areas and roads. Staying off the roads will enable emergency workers to reach flood victims easily.
  • Avoid moving water.
  • Only travel if necessary, but you should wait for the water to stop moving. While moving, wear sturdy shoes and a stick gauge to establish the depth of the water and ground firmness.

Take a look at this video about the Danger of Flash Flooding by The Weather Channel.


Floods are unavoidable; hence the need to know what to do during a flood and how to survive a flood. Fortunately, during these periods, sufficient material on flash flood safety and flood preparation enables you to navigate the season easily.

Therefore, if you live in a high-risk area, stay updated on your locality by following the news update on TV and radio. Also, cooperate with the emergency teams on the ground and only act when instructed.

Flood Emergency Resources

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