Millions of people in the UK live and work in areas at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea.
What to do before flooding occurs
- Keep an eye out for flood warnings in Scotland, England and Wales, and Northern Ireland
- The Environment Agency gives advice on ways to protect your home from flooding. In Scotland, advice is available from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
- For example, choose furnishings that are easy to remove or store at a higher level, such as rugs rather than carpets.
- Unfilled sandbags and sand can be purchased from builders’ merchants. Remember if there is a flood, demand may exceed supply as people rush to buy them.
- Prepare an emergency kit including emergency numbers, insurance policy, first aid kit, torch and water. Use our home emergency contacts sheet. Have a list of irreplaceable items to make safe – and keep important personal documents in a sealed bag.
- Tune in to the local radio/TV for updates. If you can, move any vehicles to higher levels. Alert your neighbours, particularly elderly people.
- Pack essential items you will need if evacuated – medication, clothing, toiletries and items for children. Empty freezers and refrigerators, leaving doors open.
- If you have time, take photographs before you leave. This may help with later insurance claims. Turn off the mains power and water, and take mobile phones and chargers with you. Put sandbags in toilet bowls to prevent sewage back-flow. Shut windows, lock doors – take pets.
When flooding happens
- When flooding happens, stay safe.
- Don't walk, swim or drive through floodwater – just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car!
- Don't walk on sea defences or riverbanks, cross river bridges if possible.
Avoid contact with floodwater – it may be contaminated with sewage.
- Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.
- When the floods have cleared, there are still dangers. Don’t use gas or electrical appliances until after they have been checked for safety and dispose of any food that has come into contact with flood water.
- Boil tap water until supplies have been declared safe.
The Health Protection Agency has advice on the risks of ill health. And the Environment Agency has information on sanitation, water bottles, waste and water supply following a flood.