Flood prevention steps can save your life and property

If you live, work or own property in an area at risk of flooding, take a few steps now that will reduce later your risk of death, health threats and property damage from flooding - whether you're a homeowner, farmer, business, dam owner or local government official.

Buy flood insurance

Buying flood insurance is a good idea even if you live in a low- to moderate-risk area. Flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowner's insurance policies, federal disaster assistance isn't guaranteed, and even low risk areas suffer flooding if melting snow and rain collects rapidly, if there are poor drainage systems or if water mains break. Insurance policies in low risk areas can start as low as $100.

Floodproof structures

For areas with greater flooding risk, here are some quick and relatively inexpensive things you can do to protect your home or business from flooding.

  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, air conditioner and other utilities.
  • Install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent flood water back ups.
  • Construct interior barriers to stop low level floodwater from entering basements.
  • Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
  • Remove inventory or important papers and possessions from the basement.
  • Back up important computer files and store in a secure off site location.
  • Read Living in the Floodplain: What You Need to Know - Who You Need to Know [PDF] .
    Call 608-267-7694 and ask for publication WT-851-2006.

Follow health and safety advice

Learn about the emergency supplies you'll need in case of flooding, how to identify potential home hazards to avoid and the flood evacuation route and other steps you'll want to take to protect yourself if flooding occurs.

Prepare your farm to avoid manure runoff into streams

Flooding can increase the risk that manure will run off into streams, rivers, and groundwater, contaminating private drinking water wells and causing pollution and potentially fish kills. Take steps now to prevent spills or runoff when flooding occurs.

Assure safe dams and get emergency plans ready

Dam owners should take the following steps to prepare for the possibility of flooding to avoid endangering human life and property downstream of their dam.

  1. Locate and review your Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for the dam. Create one if you don't have a formal one now.
  2. Post emergency contact phone numbers for law enforcement, local emergency government, the Statewide Warning Center (800-943-0003), dam operators and their backup and the DNR dam safety engineer for your county.
  3. Coordinate dam operation with upstream and downstream dam owners. Confirm there is a contingency plan (back operations and emergency operations) procedures in place.
  4. Monitor ice flow and water levels early.
  5. Operate the dam in a timely manner to reduce risk gate failure and/or damage. Refer to dam safety and floodplain zoning maps for an estimate of lands that might be flooded if you don't have a dam failure analysis map.
Last revised: Tuesday April 16 2013