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Home chevron_right Crime and safety chevron_right Preparing yourself for an emergency chevron_right Flooding advice

Flooding advice and information

A number of factors can lead to flooding including heavy rainfall, melting snow, or extreme events such as a tidal surge.

The effects of flooding can have a devastating impact on normal daily life, as well as physical and mental health and wellbeing. However, by taking some basic precautions, residents can prepare themselves for the worst, and keep damage and disruption to a minimum.

Flood warnings

There are different types of flood warnings which show how severe the situation is:

  • Flood alert - flooding is possible, be prepared
  • Flood warning - flooding is expected, immediate action is required
  • Severe flood warning - there is a significant danger to life

You can view current and expired flood warnings online or contact Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

You can sign up to get flood warnings from government by phone, text or email. The service is free to use. Sign up for flood warnings on GOV.UK or by calling 0345 988 1188.

What to do

Preparing for a flood


In a flood, you may find you're without lighting, heating or a telephone line. The time to think is now - don't wait until it happens. The better prepared you are, the better you will cope if anything happens to you and your family.

  • Make sure you have adequate insurance. Flood damage is included in most buildings insurance policies, but do check your home and contents are covered
  • Make up a flood kit - include key personal documents, torch, battery or wind-up radio, rubber gloves, wellingtons, waterproof clothing, first aid kit and blankets
  • Keep details of your insurance policy and the emergency contact number somewhere safe - preferably as part of your flood kit
  • Get into the habit of storing valuable or sentimental items upstairs or in a high place
  • Buy some sandbags or floorboards to block doorways and air bricks. Tips on how to lay sandbags effectively are available from the Environment Agency
  • Make sure you know where to turn off your gas and electricity

The government website has more advice on what to do before, during and after a flood.

First signs of flooding


Firstly it's important to focus on the safety of you and your family; put people before possessions and property. Be prepared to act quickly and follow the guidance of the emergency services.

  • Gather all essentials and take them upstairs, or to a high place
  • Fill jugs and saucepans with clean water
  • Make sure your family and pets are upstairs or in a high place, with a means of escape
  • Help any vulnerable people that you can without putting yourself in harm's way
  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if it is safe to do so. Do not touch electrical sources if stood in water

The government website has more advice on what to do before, during and after a flood.

During a flood


Floods can kill. Beware of flood hazards:

  • Don't try to walk or drive through floodwater - six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over and two feet of water will float your car
  • Manhole covers may have come off and there may be other hazards below the water which you can't see
  • Never try to swim through fast flowing water - you may get swept away or be struck by an object in the water
  • Don't walk on sea defences, riverbanks or cross river bridges - they may collapse in extreme situations or you may be swept off by large waves. Beware of stones and pebbles being thrown up by waves
  • Avoid contact with floodwater - it may be contaminated with sewage
  • Move your family and pets upstairs or to higher ground. If the flooding is severe the authorities may move you to temporary accommodation
  • Make sure you know where to turn off your gas and electricity

The government website has more advice on what to do before, during and after a flood.

After a flood

  • Take care if you have to go into flood water. There could be hidden dangers like sharp objects and raised manhole covers
  • Don't turn on gas or electrics if they may have got wet. Only turn them on when they've been checked by a qualified professional
  • Don't eat food which has touched flood water. Don't eat food from the fridge or freezer if your electricity has been turned off for more than four hours
  • Wash your hands regularly with clean water and soap. If there's no clean water, use wet wipes or hand sanitising gel
  • Phone your insurance company as soon as possible and follow their advice. Take photographs before you start cleaning and ask your insurer before discarding items that cannot be cleaned (such as mattresses and carpets)

The government website has more advice on what to do before, during and after a flood.

Who can help?


Environment Agency

  • Responsible for flood defence and flood warning in England and Wales and issuing flood warning to the public
  • Provides the 0345 988 1188 service
  • You can listen to recorded flood information or speak to an operator for general information and advice 24 hours a day


  • Work with the police, fire and rescue services and the Environment Agency in the response to severe flooding
  • Set up rest centres for people evacuated from their homes and arrange temporary accommodation
  • Deal with road closures caused by overflowing drains and sewers


  • Co-ordinate the emergency services in a major flood incident and help with evacuation of people from their homes where necessary

Fire Service

  • Responsible primarily for saving life, rescue and recovery
  • May also pump out floodwater (there may be a charge to householders for this service)

Citizens Advice