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Water emergencies: Are you ready?

(NC) A recent report by the Insurance Board of Canada announced that flooding and other emergency water events are now more common than fire across the country. Would you be ready if your home was flooded by a major water emergency? Even if you live at the top of a hill, you can still be affected by flooding due to old infrastructure or weather events according to Jennifer Kolah, a senior underwriter with the property and casualty side of Desjardins Insurance. Sewer backups and other plumbing issues may occur at any time because of:

• Heavy rain in a short period of time

• A snap thaw or a seasonal snow melt after a particularly snowy winter

• An increase in the water table after a prolonged wet period

Some of these events might inconvenience you for a couple of hours, while others could keep you out of your home for several days. So in case you're affected by the latter, it's important to have a plan in place because the first three days after an emergency are the most critical. It should define each family member's role, include instructions for a meeting location and contain a list of emergency contacts. Also have a 72-hour emergency kit ready to go. Typically it will include 3 days' worth of water for each person in your family, imperishable food stuffs, candles, flashlight and batteries, and a first-aid kit.

Secondly, while you can't predict when you could be affected by a flood, you can prevent plumbing-related water damage through regular household maintenance:

• Make sure that everyone in your family knows how to find and shut off the water valves for the different parts of your home. In case of an emergency, they should know how to turn off the water main, water heater, washing machine, dishwasher, sinks and toilets. This should also be done before you go on vacation to prevent any unexpected water damage that may occur in your absence.

• Be aware of leaks in faucets, pipes and hoses. Sometimes a leak is a sign of a larger problem. Aim to fix any issues right away. Make sure you check the condition of your home's water tank for example, which should be replaced every seven to 10 years, depending on the water hardness.

• In the spring make sure your roof is in good condition and that there is no cracking around your foundation. These are key areas where water can get in and cause a lot of damage. In the fall, remove leaves and debris from your gutters and downspouts. And just before winter starts, make sure to turn off all outdoor water taps.

For more information about water emergency preparedness, visit Desjardins Insurance at www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com.

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