Actions That You Can Take Before a Flood Occurs

After getting flood insurance, there are several things you can do to minimize losses in your home or business and ensure the safety of family and employees.

1. Safeguard your possessions.
Create a file containing information about all your property and its contents, and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:

  • A copy of your insurance policies with your agent’s contact information.
  • An inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. For more information visit
  • Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.
  • Businesses should have a plan for resuming operations after a flood.

2. Prepare your property.

  • First make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.
  • Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Anchor any fuel tanks.
  • Raise electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your homes projected flood elevation.
  • Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
  • Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
  • If your property is located in an area in danger of post-fire flooding, remove hazardous materials such as chemicals from your home and outbuildings. You may move the hazardous materials to a location that is not in danger of flooding, or for information on disposal locations, click here, or contact the New Mexico Environment Department.
  • Protect areas susceptible to floodwaters by placing sandbags. Sandbags can be used to keep water out of buildings, to redirect floodwaters away from property, or to fill in damaged spots in berms or levees. Sandbags are prepared in the following manner:

    • Filling sandbags is a two person job. Have one person crouch or kneel, holding the bag upright on the ground. The second person shovels sand into the bag until the bag is one-half to two-thirds full. Fold the top of the bag over; do not tie bags. Sandbags are generally filled near the location where they will be placed.
    • Place the bag in the desired location such that the open end of the bag is folded under the sand.
    • Bags can be stacked up to three-high a single line or can be stacked in a pyramid shape, with each layer containing one row fewer than the layer below. The pyramid pattern provides more stability, but requires more bags.
    • Alternate the placement of the bags to fill in potential gaps or weak spots.
    • Place sandbags with the folded end of the bag facing the upstream direction from which the water will flowing. This will cause the water to keep the bag sealed, rather than opening the bag and spilling the contents.

For more details on sandbagging techniques, click here.

3. Develop an emergency plan.

  • Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family or employees. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency contact.
  • Have a plan to protect your pets.
  • Itemize and take pictures of possessions and assets.

Keep valuable items on the upper floors of your home or building.