Flooding can be disastrous on many levels, severely disrupting services and causing major property damage in addition to putting lives at risk in the home.


  1. Before a flood
  2. During a flood
  3. After a flood
  4. Further information

Before a flood

There are a number steps a resident can take to prepare for flooding and minimise its impact. If your home has flooded in the past or is known as a flood risk, then these steps or even more important.

Check if your area is at risk of flooding

A tool is available from the Government to check the flood risk in your area. It is recommended for those who have recently moved to a new area to use this service and be made aware of the flood risk.

Sign up to flood alerts

Residents can sign up for flood warnings from the Governments national flood warning system. Users will be notified when a flood is predicted in their specified area, allowing time to prepare.

Get home insurance

Repair costs for flood damaged property can be high so it is important that flood damage cover is included in the policy, especially for properties in flood risk areas. A joint initiative between the Government and insurers, known as Flood Re, has been created to make the flood cover part of household insurance policies more affordable.

During a flood

In the event of a flood there are steps that can be taken to help keep you and your family safe.

If you experience flooding:

  • You and your family's safety is most important, so move them and your pets upstairs. Don't barricade yourself in a room; make sure you still have a means of escape.
  • Turn off your electricity and gas supply, if it is safe to do so, but do not touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water.
  • Move your valuable items upstairs or to a high point in your property.
  • Disconnect any equipment that uses water, like washing machines and dishwashers.

In some cases you may be evacuated to a rest centre. If you do need to be evacuated you will need to pull together an emergency grab bag.

Useful items for an emergency grab bag:

  • Copy of your Household Emergency Plan, including a list of useful phone numbers, for example for your doctor and close relatives
  • House and car keys
  • Mobile phones & chargers
  • Wallet, purse, cash, bank cards
  • Glasses and/or contact lenses
  • Important personal documents in a waterproof bag (insurance, passports, driving licences)
  • Medication as well as copies of prescriptions for regular medication
  • Essential childcare supplies (nappies, food)
  • Bottled water and some non-perishable emergency foods
    Spare money

After a flood

If your home is damaged by flooding it can be a very traumatic experience.

Depending on the level of damage caused there can be a lot of things you need to consider before you can return and start living as normal in your property.

Check your home first

If there is standing water next to the outside walls of your home, don't go in. You won't be able to tell if the building is safe or structurally sound. Before you go in, walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines and gas leaks.

Go inside carefully

If the door sticks and has to be forced open, it is probably swollen. If it If it sticks at the top, your ceiling may be ready to fall is it may be better to enter through a window.

Do not smoke or use open flames in your home in case of gas leaks.

Step carefully as water and mud make the floor very slippery. Also watch for loose flooring, holes, nails, and tall pieces of furniture that might be ready to fall over.

Switch off energy utility services

Turn off utility services such as electricity, gas, or other fuel sources as soon as possible within the home, even if they have been disconnected by the service company. If you suspect a gas or fuel leak, leave the premises immediately and call the relevant supplier.

Take care of yourself

You have just been through a disaster and the recovery period can be long, hard and chaotic. Don't be surprised if you experience tension or see signs of stress in family members. Infants, pregnant women and people with health problems should avoid the flooded area until clean up is complete.

Further health support can be found on The National Flood Forum and the Samaritans.

Clean up

The mud left behind by floodwaters contains most of the health hazards you will face. It is very important to get rid of the mud as soon as possible. This is a lot easier if it is done before the mud dries out.

The walls, floors, shelves, contents - every flooded part of your house - should be thoroughly washed and disinfected. Some projects, such as washing clothes, may have to wait until all the utilities are restored. Others may be best done by professionals.

Further detailed advice is available on how to clean your home safely after a flood.

Protect your home from further damage

You need to make sure that there will be no damage from rain or wind, and also check for leaking water pipes. where possible, move undamaged contents to a safe place.

Rescue the most valuable items

Find and protect the irreplaceable valuables, such as money, jewellery, insurance papers and photographs. Wash the mud off before the items can dry. Put articles in a safe place such as a dry first floor or a plastic bag or take them to a friend's home.

Further information

The Environment Agency has information on various flood scenarios along with flood warnings and flood reporting.