Safety & Preparedness

Consider Making a Flood Plan

Creating an emergency plan is a best practice for any emergency or natural disaster, not just floods. Information on planning can be found at If you’re not sure whether your property is in a flood-prone or high-risk area, maps are available online HERE.

Get flood insurance. Go to for flood insurance information.

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Become familiar with best flood evacuation routes, potential public shelters, and where to find high ground. In the event of a flash flood, you may need to seek high ground on foot quickly. Be sure to have a plan in place to keep you and your family safe. Take your emergency plan a step further and practice! Run through different emergency and natural disaster scenarios with your family so everyone understands what to do in any emergency.

If you Evacuate

Leaving your home during a disaster is never easy. However, it is important look through the checklist below to for the most effective evacuation: 

  • Lock your house. Preplan a designated spot (and a phone number) out of the flooded area where everyone can meet if the family becomes separated.
  • Do not walk or drive through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. One foot of flowing water can move a car. Always use a pole or a stick to make sure the ground is in reach before you enter an area that is flooded.
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. Electrocution is the number two cause of flood deaths. Electrical current will travel through water. Report downed power lines to Green Mountain Power.
  • Turn the gas off at the main valve next to the meter. If you smell natural gas, or hear a hissing noise, chances are good there is a natural gas leak. Immediately call the Vermont Gas at 1-800-639-808  or dial 911.
  • See that your pets are taken out of harm’s way. Move them to high ground with you, or take them to a friend whose home is not threatened by the flooding.

After a Flood

Take care of yourself and your family. A flood is tough on both the body and spirit. The effects a disaster has on you and your family may last a long time. Keep your eyes open for signs of anxiety, stress, and fatigue. Return home only when authorities say it is safe to do so and review the information below:

  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
  • Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded. Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Photograph any damage to your property for insurance purposes.
  • Always look before you step. After a flood, the ground, floor, and stairs may be slippery and are usually covered with debris, mud, broken bottles, and nails. Stream banks also can be unstable.
  • Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage.
  • Make sure that the electricity is turned off when you return home. Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned, and dried.
  • Carbon monoxide exhaust kills. Use a generator or gasoline-powered machines and camp stoves outdoors. Fumes from charcoal are especially deadly.
  • Wash and clean everything. Floodwaters can carry chemicals and germs that could be harmful to your health. Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics, and medicines are health hazards. When in doubt, throw it away.
  • The staff at the Colchester Department of Planning and Zoning are aware that it may not be possible to postpone emergency repairs to wait for the building permit approval process. However, it is important to remember that a building permit is necessary when demolition or structural repairs are required. In a disaster event, the Planning and Zoning Department will not attach any penalty fees for beginning necessary emergency repairs without a permit, but once an unsafe structure has been secured, be sure to apply for a building permit.

You can let families and friends know that you are safe by registering on the American Red Cross’ Safe and Well Registration Site.