accessibility & help

Prepare for floods and flooding

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

  • Check for local flood warnings if your area is at risk: look online or call Floodline.
  • Tune in to the local radio or television news for updates. Alert your neighbours, particularly elderly or vulnerable people.
  • Prepare an emergency kit, including emergency numbers, insurance policy, first aid kit, torch and water. Use our home emergency contacts sheet so you have the numbers you need to hand, even if you lose power. Have a list of irreplaceable items to keep safe and put important personal documents into a sealed bag.
  • Pack essential items you will need if evacuated – medication, clothing, toiletries and items for children.
  • Purchase unfilled sandbags and sand from builders’ merchants. Remember that, if there is a flood, demand may exceed supply - as people will rush to buy them.
  • Empty freezers and refrigerators, leaving doors open.
  • If you can, move any vehicles to higher levels.
  • If you have time, take photographs before you leave. This may help later with 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 - and don't forget to take your pets.

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. If you are exposed to it, wash hands and clothes thoroughly.
  • Don’t allow children to play in or near floodwater.
  • If you have support from social services, they should contact you to make sure you are safe and well.
  • If you need to leave your home due to flooding and have nowhere to stay, you local council will find you somewhere on a temporary basis. Initially, this may be at a rest centre. However, if you cannot retun home, your council will look for something more suitable.

After floods

  • There are still dangers when the floods have cleared. Don’t use gas or electrical appliances until they are checked for safety. Dispose of any food that may have been in floodwater.
  • Boil tap water until supplies are declared safe.
  • Flooding is often a very stressful experience. If you need support, call NHS Direct by dialling 111. The service is available 24 hours a day. They will be able to tell you about local crisis support services and emotional support-line providers.
  • Public Health England has advice on the risks of ill health. The Environment Agency has information on sanitation, water bottles, and waste and water supply after a flood.