Protect your home from flooding
Preparing for a flood could save your family, possessions and livelihood.
One in 6 properties in England is at risk of flooding. This is only going to increase with a changing climate. Many people think that flooding will never happen to them - but it could.
Plan in advance
There are simple things you can do now to help reduce the impact of flooding on your home.
Start by checking your risk from:
You can also get the flooding history of the land around a property. This is a free service unless it's for a business or takes more than 18 hours to complete.
If available for your neighbourhood, sign up for free flood warning messagesfrom the Environment Agency to receive phone, text or email messages about when flooding is expected.
Create a personal flood plan and prepare an emergency kit. The British Red Cross provides suggestions on what might be useful to include. When preparing your plan, check your home insurance covers your home and your belongings in the case of a flood.
You should consider installing flood products. Visit the National Flood Forum for advice or an independent directory of flood products.
Responding during a flood
- If flooding has been forecast where you live, check online for updates and news or listen local radio. If you do not have access to the internet, you can phone Floodline (0345 988 1188) or contact your local council if you have questions.
- Accidents happen in fast flowing flood water. Avoid walking or driving in or near flood water. Driving in flood water significantly increases risk of drowning. Do not let children play in flood water.
- Be careful not to hurt yourself when preparing your home and moving important things to a higher place with a means of escape. Don't touch sources of electricity if you are standing in water. Stay safe, listen to the advice of the emergency services and evacuate when told to do so.
- Report property flooding from main rivers or river blockages to the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 (Freephone 24 hour service).
- Remember that flooding is stressful. It is normal to feel anxious or upset. Take care of yourself and your family and check on elderly and vulnerable friends and neighbours.
- Avoid contact with flood water and wash your hands regularly. Swallowing flood water or mud can cause diarrhoea, fever or abdominal pain. Mention the flood if you see a doctor within 10 days for abdominal complaints.
Clearing up after a flood
- Call 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 (eg mattresses and carpets).
- Ensure good ventilation if using portable indoor heating appliances to dry out indoor spaces. Do not use petrol or diesel generators or other similar fuel-driven equipment indoors: the exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide, which can kill. More information on the dangers of carbon monoxide can be found here.
- Do not turn on gas or electrics if they may have got wet. Only turn them on when they have been checked by a qualified technician.
- Feeling tired, anxious and having difficulty sleeping is normal after you have been flooded. Contact friends and family for support as it can take a long time for life to return to normal. Public Health England offers advice and guidance on the effects of flooding on mental health.
- If you notice a change in water quality, such as a change in the colour, taste or smell of your tap water, phone local water company.
- For food safety advice after flooding, including how to make baby food without mains water, contact the Food Standards Agency.
- Do not eat food that has touched flood water. If your power has been cut off and your fridge has not been working for up to four hours and has remained unopened, the food inside will be safe. If your fridge has not been working for more than four hours it is advisable to throw away the food inside. For food safety advice after flooding contact the Food Standards Agency.
- Wash your hands regularly and clean work surfaces before and after preparing food. Using warm, clean water and soap, rinsing and drying hands is the most effective way of preventing infection. Use cold water to wash if warm is not available. If there is no clean water, use disposable soapy, wet wipes or sanitising gel to carefully clean all parts of your hands and dry them. Cover wounds with waterproof plasters.
- Wear rubber boots and gloves to clean up, and be sure to wash hands afterwards. Clean all hard surfaces (such as walls and floors) with hot water and detergent. Hard surfaces contaminated by sewage need to be cleaned and disinfected.
- Wash clothes used for cleaning separately from your other clothes. Wash soft items (such as clothing, bedding and children's toys) on a 60°C cycle with detergent.
- Make sure your family take their medicines and attend scheduled medical appointments. Dial '111' if you have non-urgent health concerns.
- Stay with friends or family, or ask your local authority to help you find alternative accommodation if your home has been damaged by flood water.
- Your local authority may help provide skips for cleaning flood-damaged household items.
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