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How to prepare for flooding

Protect yourself and the people you care about. Learn how to prepare before, during, and after flooding.

Before a flood

Find out if you are in a flood prone area

  • iMAP View custom online maps using King County data including parcels, floodway and floodplain boundaries.
  • Visit our Historical Flooding page for more information on how to use iMAP.
  • FEMA Flood Map Service CenterOrder or view current Flood Insurance Rate Maps online, learn how to read them, or request a map change. Registration is required, but there is no charge to view maps.

Sign up to receive early warning of potential flooding

Purchase flood insurance to protect your home and your belongings

  • Flood insurance is available for homeowners and renters.
  • Contact your insurance agent to purchase flood insurance.
  • If you don’t have an insurance agent or yours doesn’t sell flood insurance, call the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-427-4661 or visit the National Flood Insurance Program website for more information. 

Update flood procedures every year for your family, farm or business

  • Make sure everyone knows King County’s emergency phone numbers and when to call them.
  • Learn several routes from your home or business to high ground.
  • Plan for housing in case you need to evacuate your home.
  • Identify a meeting place and share phone numbers in case your family is separated by rising flood waters.
  • Pick an out-of-state friend or relative to call with information if local lines are busy.
  • Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water lines. 

Keep emergency supplies on hand

  • Build a disaster supply kit.
  • Some items to include in your kit are: a portable radio, emergency cooking equipment, flashlights, fresh batteries, non-perishable food and drinking water, essential medicines and a first-aid kit. 
  • Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio.

Protect your property and pets from flood hazards

  • Move vehicles, equipment, livestock, and pets to higher ground.
  • Close storm shutters and cover basement window wells. 
  • Store valuables at higher elevations such as a second floor or attic.  
  • Store important documents in waterproof containers. 
  • Anchor and secure propane tanks and other fuel containers.  
  • Make sure that underground storage tanks are fully sealed and secure.  
  • Install check valves in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains. 

Reduce or dispose of chemical products before flood season

Additional ways to prepare

  • Learn how to use sandbags to prevent flood damages
  • Keep street drains, storm grates and flap gates free of leaves and other debris. Call the 24/7 Road Helpline at 206-477-8100 if you need assistance.
  • Talk to neighbors, share your experiences with flooding and information on how to prepare. Remember, the next flood can always be bigger than floods you have seen before! 

During a flood

If you are trapped in your home or building by rapidly rising waters, call 911 for help.

Then move to a higher floor or to the roof. Take warm, weatherproof clothing, a flashlight, a cell phone and a portable radio.

Monitor the radio or television for weather updates. Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to a local station and follow all emergency instructions. 

Do not walk or wade or drive in flooded areas.  Turn around. Don’t drown. If your car stalls in a flooded area, abandon it as soon as possible. Walk back to safety in the direction you came from. 

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately  

  • Evacuation is safer before flood waters become too deep for ordinary vehicles to drive through.
  • If you evacuate by car do not drive where water is over the road or past barricaded road signs.  
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes, as shortcuts may be blocked. 

If you have enough time before you evacuate:

  • Close the main gas valve in your building.
  • Turn off all utilities in your building at the main power switch. Do not touch any electrical equipment unless it is in a dry area, or you are standing on a piece of dry wood while wearing rubber-soled shoes and rubber gloves.
  • Record flood statistics such as time, gage reading and local flood elevations for use in future home flood forecasting. 

After a flood

Check for structural damage that could cause the building to collapse before re-entering your home. Be cautious of potential gas leaks, electrical shorts and live wires. 

  • Use flashlights rather than lanterns or candles when re-entering a building in case of gas leaks.
  • Have a professional check your heating system, electrical panel, outlets and appliances for safety before using.
  • Call the gas company to have them turn the gas back on. 

Follow Seattle-King County Public Health emergency procedures

Document your losses and contact your insurance agent for flood loss claims  

  • Mark the high water point in your home or damaged structure.
  • Photograph damages before you start clean up. 
  • Record all your repair costs. 

Remove and empty sandbags

  • Dispose of sandbags according to the rules of your city or neighborhood.
  • Store sand for future use. Do not dump sand into the river or on its banks!  

Apply for financial assistance

  • Financial assistance is only available following a federal disaster declaration.
  • Check your local news outlets for updates on disaster assistance and registration procedures.