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Preparing for floods

Published on April 17, 2019

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Based on what we’ve experienced over the last several years, few Quebec residents are spared from flooding risks. In fact, several areas that were never considered susceptible to this type of disaster were hit by floods. Follow the tips provided by the L’Unique General Insurance team so you can be ready to face flood waters and minimize the damage that can be caused to your home.

  1. Check what’s covered by your home insurance
    Flood insurance coverage, known as “overflow of a body of water”, was only recently introduced in Quebec. Based on the area where you live, there may be several options available to you.

    To learn more, contact your insurance broker. You’ll know exactly what’s covered by your home insurance contract in the event of a flood and whether the insurance you currently have provides enough coverage. If necessary, you can also ask about additional coverage based on where you live.

  2. Put together an emergency kit and keep it in a place that’s easy to access
    By gathering items your family will need in order to get by for three days and keeping the kit somewhere that is accessible but protected from the elements, you’ll be all set in the event of an emergency or evacuation. Make sure you check your kit’s contents every year.
  3. Take measures to limit potential damage to your basement and your property
    • Unfinished basement: If you’re thinking about finishing your basement, you should know that the risk of financial loss and property damage caused by water seepage or flooding is lower when your basement is not finished.
    • Renovating and finishing the basement: If you decide to have some work done in your basement, it’s best to use water- and mould-resistant materials.
    • Windows: Since your basement windows are the ideal entry point for water in the event of a flood, take all the necessary precautions to try prevent water from seeping in.
      • Check periodically to see if you need to reapply sealant to the edges in case joints are weakened or damaged.
      • Make sure the drain from your window wells drains water properly and remove anything that may obstruct the flow (e.g. fallen leaves).
    • Non-return valve: It would be prudent to have a non-return valve installed if you don’t already have one to limit the risks of sewer backups.
    • Sump pump: If you have a sump pump, have it cleaned and inspected annually to make sure it’s in good working order. If your pump includes an auxiliary unit, it should also be inspected and the battery verified so that it functions properly in the event of a power outage.
    • Furniture, appliances and other property in the basement: Whenever possible, don’t place any items directly on the floor. Instead, elevate your furniture and electrical appliances. Also, avoid storing valuable items in the basement.
    • Tank or central heating unit: Whether they are located in the basement or outdoors, make sure any tank or central heating unit is firmly held in place with fasteners created specifically for that purpose. This will reduce the risk of these huge items getting tipped over or damaged if they tilt or get moved around.
    • Relandscaping your property: To reduce the risk of flooding, ensure that you properly landscape the perimeter of your home to direct water away from the foundations. The land around your home should slope slightly downward by at least six meters. Also, to limit soil erosion around the building, it’s a good idea to plant resistant plants that can adapt to the region’s climate.
  4. As soon as the water levels start rising in your area, monitor reports from authorities and be prepared to act quickly.
    • Prepare the items you would take with you in the event of an evacuation, including your emergency kit.
    • Monitor the news in the region and the information released by local authorities to stay on top of the situation and what measures to take. You can usually find this information on the following websites:
  5. Act as soon as your home is exposed to a high risk of floodin
    To make sure your family is safe and limit property damage, take the following steps before water seeps into your home:
    • Turn off the power supply (electricity, gas or oil). Important! If water has already seeped into your home, do not try to turn the power off yourself! Call Hydro-Québec right away.
    • Do all that you can to prevent water from seeping in and rising:
      • Place sandbags around the building
      • Install waterproofing membranes along any opening through which water could enter
      • If you live near the St. Lawrence River, protect the windows facing the river with plywood
    • Check that the non-return valve is in good working order. If you don’t have one, block the sewer lines and the drain.
    • Move as many objects as possible to the floors above, especially any chemical or dangerous products.

Your insurance broker is there to help you prevent losses. Feel free to contact him or her!

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