What is flood proofing?
We understand flood proofing as structural, and non-structural, approaches to prevent or reduce flood damages to a property or its content. Here we cover some common activities or approaches and link to resources in our Resource Library which can be used to plan for, and implement, these interventions.
There are a range of flood proofing products on the market, particularly in the global north, the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance recognises that in the right contexts many of these can help reduce damages caused by floods, but we can and do not endorse or promote the use of any particular products. What flood proofing approaches you use should be determined by the specific context in question, and no approach provides guaranteed protection.
Flood damages can be avoided by building raised houses, elevating the home above a likely flood level. This brief describes a low cost flood resistant approach applied in Bangladesh you can also watch this 4 minute video for a quick overview. This well-illustrated manual provides instructions for disaster proof buildings used throughout Asia.
If homes cannot be raised above flood levels they can be built to float on it. This video showcases the building of floating homes in Vietnam and Bangladesh. In Vietnam the emphasis is on retrofitting existing homes with buoyancy aids, while in Bangladesh entirely new floating homes are designed and constructed with full participation from the community.
Flood proof infrastructure
Raised grain storage avoids grains being destroyed by floodwater while raised platforms in cattle sheds provide a safe space to evacuate livestock in the event of a flood and avoid devastating loss of livelihoods, as well as suffering of animals.
Barriers, for example sandbags, can be used as an attempt to shut water out of a property. There are a range of different barriers available on the market, particularly in the global north, the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance cannot, and does not, promote any specific barriers and suggest that you carry out sufficient research before a potential purchase.
Blue and green spaces contribute to reduced flood risk while paved areas where the water has limited options as to where to go increases it. The blog How to Build a City That Doesn’t Flood? Turn it Into a Sponge provides examples of how flood risk can be reduced through landscaping choices.
Moving and protecting property
One, perhaps obvious, approach to flood proofing is to simply move belongings to a higher point in the home, a second floor if one exists or on top of tall shelves.
Having a plan for what to do with valuable property including important paperwork in the case of flooding is an important part of preparation. Identify what valuable property you have and store this as high up as you can. This 4 minute animated video gives some good tips on preparing for floods.
Having furniture and appliances that either is or can easily be raised, doors you can remove, rugs rather than carpets, and placing electrical sockets higher on the walls are all reasonably simple precautions you can take to reduce the impacts of floods on your property.
Making sure you know how to turn off your electricity, water, and gas is vital to protecting your property from fire and sewage.
If you have additional useful resources you think other practitioners could benefit from you can share these here.
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