While certain communities in Quebec are under a state of emergency, others are still in flood prevention mode, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
Authorities say the key to being safe is being well prepared.
Urgence Quebec says having an emergency kit with enough items and food for your family to get through the first 72 hours after a disaster is a must.
Homeowners can also take several precautions to protect their belongings inside and outside the home.
Urgence Quebec recommends the following:
- Move your valuables from the basement or ground floor to an upper floor.
- Put chemicals or harmful products, such as insecticides and waste oil, in a safe place and out of the reach of children.
- Block sewers in the basement to avoid backflow in the absence of an anti-backflow valve (a device that prevents the sewage from an overloaded main sewer line from backing up into the basement).
- Plug the floor drain in the basement to reduce the amount of water that may come up through the drainpipe.
- Place sandbags in front of each entrance and opening if the municipality advises you to do so.
- Remove all objects from your yard that can be easily moved.
- Secure bulky objects that could be carried away by the water, posing a threat to others.
- Protect the windows facing the St. Lawrence River with plywood.
- Caulk your windows.
When to turn off power
If flooding is imminent and water has not yet entered your home, turn off the power to prevent the risk of fire or electric shock.
Hyrdo-Québec says to use a dry stick to flip the main breaker off and to make sure you’re standing on dry ground and not touching anything made of metal.
It’s also important to turn off the main gas inlet, but Urgence Quebec warns that only a specialist can turn it back on. Don’t forget to turn off valves on propane bottles and tanks.
If water has already begun seeping into the basement, do not touch anything. Call Hydro-Québec immediately at 1-800-790-2424 to have the power shut off at the meter.
When to evacuate your home
If you feel your safety is at risk then it’s time to leave, says Urgence Québec. Your municipality may also issue an evacuation order.
Don’t forget to bring your emergency kit, any medication or prescriptions you might need, clothes and toiletries and identification documents for the whole family, including health cards and driver’s licences.
It is also recommended that you let your municipality know where you plan on staying in the interim. You can leave a note in your mailbox with your time of departure and your destination.
Check road conditions before heading out on the road by calling 511 or checking online.
Avoid walking or driving on flooded roads. If floodwaters cause your engine to stall, Urgence Québec says you should abandon your vehicle to avoid being swept away.
During an emergency situation, it is important to stay informed. You can do so by listening to media reports, following your municipality’s social media channels and checking the Urgence Quebec website.
Some important phone numbers to have on hand include the following:
- Health Info: 811
- Transports Québec: 511
- City information (Montreal): 311
- Emergencies: 911