Flood safety guide

Use these tips to help you prepare and stay safe in case of a flood

Flooding can happen quickly and is the most common weather-related cause of property damage in the nation. Flood preparation starts with monitoring weather conditions and knowing the risk of flooding at your property. Flood maps are ever changing and have been updated in recent years. You can find your property on a local flood map at the FEMA Flood Map Service Center.

In addition to staying on watch and knowing your risk, there are important actions you can take before, during and after a flood. This guide can help, with flood safety tips and answers to frequently asked questions from our expert risk management team.


Q: I don’t live near the ocean. Do I need to worry about flooding?


A: Unfortunately, no one is safe from the possibility of flooding. While coastal flooding may get the most attention, inland flooding is still a significant concern. Rivers, streams, and reservoirs may all experience flooding during hurricanes, heavy rainstorms, and spring snow melts. Properties may also experience flash flooding, groundwater, and drain and sewer flooding.


Q: What is sewer flooding?


A: Sewer flooding can occur when there is excess rainfall or a blockage or failure of the drainage system. Water and waste can then back up through the drainage pipes and into a home, causing damage as well as health concerns. A sewer backflow valve, which temporarily blocks the drain pipes to prevent a return flow into your house, can be installed to help prevent this. Consult a licensed plumber when installing a sewer backflow valve or contact Berkley One to access the PlusOneSM service network of contractors who are vetted and insured.


Q: Do I need to be concerned about storm surge?


A: If you live near the ocean, yes! Storm surge is a very fast, abnormal rise in seawater level during a storm, measured as the height of the water above the normal predicted astronomical tide. The surge is caused primarily by a storm’s winds pushing water onshore. Storm surges are capable of rising 6-10 feet within minutes which makes it one of the most dangerous factors of a hurricane or major storm. For personal safety, evacuate as soon as you are told as storm surges often cut off evacuation routes. Do not try to walk, swim, or even drive through storm surge water. The water can be moving at a speed of 10-15 mph and one foot of water at that speed has enough force to sweep a car away.


Q: What permanent flood preparations can be made to a home to reduce damage?


A: There are several things you can do to help prepare your home for the possibility of a flood:

  • If you live in a flood-prone area, seal the walls in your basement with waterproof compounds and consider installing sump pumps and/or French drains.
  • Elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel if they are in areas susceptible to flooding.
  • Grade the landscaping around your home to direct flooding and excess water away from the foundation.
  • Regularly maintain gutters and drains to keep them free of leaves and debris.


Q: I have a sump pump in my basement, but I’m not sure it works. What can I do?


A: Test it! You don’t want the first test of your sump pump to be when the water is already entering your basement. Pour water into the pump well, or lift the float switch to make sure the sump pump is operational. If you have a backup generator, make sure the pump is on the generator panel. If you don’t have a generator, a battery backup should be installed. Power outages often go hand in hand with flooding events.


Q: What last minute preparations can I make before a flood event is forecast to occur?


A: If a flood event is in the forecast, there are several things you can do to prepare:

  • Bring outdoor furniture inside or secure it if necessary, and move essential items to an upper floor or shelving if you do not have an upper floor.
  • Roll and elevate area rugs and tie up or take down any window treatments on susceptible lower levels.
  • Interior damage may be reduced or eliminated by using sandbags at doors and other points of entry.
  • Develop an emergency plan ahead of time and make sure everyone in your household is aware of the plan.
  • People come first. Most importantly, make sure your family, friends, and pets remain safe.


Q: How can I help keep my family safe during a flood?


A: There are steps you can take before, during and after a flood to help keep your loved ones safe:

  • Gather supplies and important documents in advance, preferably in a designated supply kit (we’ll cover your emergency kit in the next question).
  • Listen to all flood related announcements and warnings and always evacuate if you are being told to do so.
  • Never walk or drive through floodwaters, as they can often be deceivingly fast-moving.
  • Beware of wet electrical equipment and do not stand in water if it is around equipment. Downed power lines can also create electrically charged water.


Q: What should be in my emergency preparedness kit?


A: Your kit should include the following items:

  • General first aid necessities
  • Medications for family members
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Cash
  • Blankets
  • Extra clothing


Q: What should I do after a flood has occurred?


A: It will depend on the flood event, and what instructions you get from local authorities. Here are some key things to know for flood safety after an event:

  • If you have evacuated, only return after authorities have told you to do so.
  • If your power was shut off, do not turn it back on until it has been inspected by a licensed electrician.
  • Do not drink tap water until you have been told that your municipality’s water source is safe to drink.
  • If your home or possessions have been damaged, document everything. Take photos and contact your insurance advisor, who can help guide you.


At Berkley One, our risk management and claims experts are here to help, today and every day. Additionally, we offer the PlusOneSM Service Network, a team of vetted and insured contractors and service providers who can help you with proactive installations or repairs. To learn more, contact us here.