Floods – Mitigation (Actions Before, During, After)


Mitigation is deciding on which actions to take before, during, and after the next disaster — to reduce human and financial consequences later by analyzing, reducing, and insuring against risk.

Flood Emergency Mitigation Actions

The following actions are some important recommendations that you can follow through each stage of a flood emergency:[1] [2]

Actions Before: Determine Risk, Increase Knowledge, Safeguard, Plan

General All-Hazard Actions:

  • Determine the disaster risks in your locale and the hazards that accompany them.
  • Increase your knowledge about the emergency warning signals and alert notifications used in your community.
  • Instruct family members how to shut off water, gas and electricity to your house.
  • Make the necessary property preparations to reduce the damage from the hazard.
  • Acquire a backup generator in case of a prolonged power failure.
  • Check into insurance (property, health, life, and hazard type).
  • Make the necessary financial arrangements in case of a sudden evacuation and power outage that shuts down local ATMs and banks.
  • Organize important documents and records and store them in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
  • Perform home inventory video taping and store tape in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
  • Develop an Emergency Communication Plan with evacuation plan and ask an out-of-state person to serve as the "family contact".
  • Assemble a shelter-in-place Emergency Supplies Kit.
  • Assemble a mobile Emergency Supplies Kit that can serve as a “grab and go” bag?
  • Get a family member trained in first aid and CPR.
  • Make the necessary preparations and arrangements for pets, seniors, and the disabled.
  • Familiarize yourself with the emergency plans of your family member's employment building, school, day care center, or nursing home.

Hazard Specific Actions:

  • Stockpile emergency building materials.
  • Buy and install a sump pump with backup power. Have an electrician raise electric components such as sockets, switches and circuit breakers at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation.
  • Install check valves in sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains.
  • Plan and practice an evacuation route.

Actions During: Safety Basics, Evacuation, Shelter in Place

During a flood watch:

  • If indoors:
    • Turn on battery operated radio to get latest emergency information.
    • Get pre-assembled emergency supplies.
    • Fill sinks, bathtubs and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated.
    • If you come in contact with floodwater, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water. Floodwater may carry raw sewage, chemical waste and other infectious substances.
    • If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • If outdoors:
    • Climb to high ground and stay there.
    • Avoid walking through any floodwaters.
    • If in a car, turn around and go another way; if your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
    • Avoid downed power lines because electric currents pass easily through water.
    • Look out for animals, especially snakes. Animals lose their homes in floods too.

During an evacuation:

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately to avoid flooded roads, being sure to follow recommended evacuation routes and listen to radio for evacuation instructions.

Driving Flood Facts - The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.

Actions After: Get Disaster Relief, Clean-up, Salvage

  • Avoid floodwaters. Do not let children play in the water.
  • Be aware of areas where water has receded. Roadways may have weakened and could collapse.
  • Avoid downed power lines and muddy water where power lines may have fallen.
  • Don't return home until authorities express expressly it is safe to do so.
  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Help neighbors whom may need assistance.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings.
  • Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage and examine walls, floors, doors, and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
  • Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes, that may have come into your home with flood waters.
  • Watch for loose plaster and ceilings that could fall.
  • Take pictures of damage for insurance claims.
  • Look for fire hazards.
  • Throw away all food (including canned) that has come in contact with flood waters.
  • Pump out flooded basements gradually (~ 1/3 amount of water per day) to avoid structural damage.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems ASAP - damaged sewage systems are health hazards.


  1. FloodSmart.gov, American Red Cross, CDC – Emergency Preparedness and Response, FEMA – Are You Ready? Guide, Ready.gov, Be a Force of Nature with NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation, National Weather Service Weather Safety
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