How to prepare for floods and flooding

What to do before, during and after floods.

This page is available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

Millions of people in the UK live and work in areas at risk from flooding.

Take these steps before, during and after floods to help keep you and your family safe.

Before floods

  • Check for local flood warnings. You can get updates from local radio and TV news. The government also provides the latest flood information.
  • If there’s a risk of flooding, let your neighbours know. Also tell older and vulnerable people who live nearby.
  • Prepare an emergency kit.
  • When a flood strikes, sandbags and sand from builders’ merchants will be in high demand. They can be used as a barrier to divert water and prevent or reduce floodwater damage. Buy sand and sandbags in advance.
  • Move vehicles to higher ground so they won’t be caught in rising floodwater.
  • Take photographs inside your home. This may help with insurance claims.
  • Turn off the mains power before you leave. You can be electrocuted in floodwater if the power remains switched on.
  • Put sandbags in toilet bowls to prevent sewage backflow.
  • Shut and lock all windows and doors. This will protect your property, and may reduce the volume of floodwater entering the building.
  • Take all pets with you when you leave so they aren’t trapped by rising water.

During floods

  • Don't walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over. Two feet of water can float a car.
  • Don't walk on sea defences or riverbanks.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage. If you’re exposed, wash your hands and clothes thoroughly in clean water.
  • Don’t allow children to play in or near floodwater.
  • Need to leave your home and have nowhere to stay? Your local council will help. Initially, you may be housed in an emergency shelter. But if you cannot return home for a long period, your council can help you find something more suitable.

After floods

  • Dispose of any food that may have been in floodwater.
  • Boil tap water or use bottled water until supplies are declared safe.
  • Flooding is a stressful experience. If you need support, call NHS 111 by dialling 111. They’ll tell you about crisis support services.

More help and advice

Public Health England provides information on risks to health after flooding.

The government website has a guide to cleaning up after a flood.

We have a package for teachers on how to prepare primary school students for weather emergencies, including floods.

Learn first aid so you can help deal with emergencies such as strokes, choking and burns.

Get advice on how to provide emotional support in a crisis and help people in distress.

Our crisis resource for teachers shows how teachers can help young people in distress.