Preparing for a flood

Check your flood risk

Find out if there is a risk of flooding in your area

Sign up for flood warnings

Sign up online for free flood warnings 

Plan what to do in an emergency

Plan where you could move people, pets and valuables to safety.

You must consider the needs of everyone on your property and make sure everyone knows the escape plan:

  • it might be safest to move to a room upstairs, ideally with a window that could be a potential escape route  
  • if you are in a basement or bungalow, think about where else you could move to for safety
  • think about where you could move belongings, upstairs, on top of pieces of furniture or in your car
  • store valuable or sentimental items up high all year round 

Write a flood plan

Write a flood plan so you, your family, or your workforce know what to do during a flood.

This will help you plan what to do with valuable items, where you would go, and who you need to call in an emergency.

Find how to keep your pets safe via the RSPCA and Blue Cross

Pack a flood kit

Prepare a flood kit of essential items.

Keep it handy in case you are evacuated and make sure people know where to find it.

This should include:

  • copies of your home insurance documents
  • a phone charger and battery pack
  • a list of important telephone numbers
  • a torch with spare batteries
  • a radio – on your phone or battery operated
  • warm, waterproof clothing and blankets
  • a first aid kit and prescription medication
  • bottled water and non-perishable food
  • baby food and baby care items
  • pet supplies
  • rubber gloves and wellington boots
  • face masks and hand sanitiser 

Keep a list of important phone numbers in your flood kit, this should include:

  • Floodline 0345 988 1188
  • Local authority emergency helpline
  • insurance company 24-hour number and your policy number
  • local radio station frequency for news alerts and weather updates
  • family and neighbours
  • work phone numbers
  • doctor's surgery
  • local police station
  • vet/kennel/cattery
  • local hotel or B&B
  • gas supplier and meter number
  • electricity supplier and meter number
  • water supplier and meter number
  • electrician
  • plumber
  • builder

Check your insurance

  • Confirm you are covered for flooding (ask your insurer, landlord or letting agent).
  • Find out if the policy covers alternative accommodation if needed.
  • Find out if the policy replaces new for old, and if it has a limit on repairs.
  • Don't underestimate the value of your contents.
  • Take photos of your property and make a list of your belongings to help with future insurance claims.
  • Check your car insurance and what your policy classes as avoidable and unavoidable flood damage.

Looking for specialist flood insurance

The Association of British Insurers have more information about flooding and insurance.

How to turn off gas, electricity and water 

During a flood, you should turn off gas, electricity, and water.

  • The gas valve is usually located next to your gas meter.
  • Your electricity main is usually a red switch on your fuse box.
  • Your water stopcock is usually under a kitchen sink or where the water pipe enters your home. 

Contact your supplier if you don't know how to do this.

Protect your property

If you live in a flood risk area, or you have flooded before, consider getting a chartered surveyor to carry out a flood survey. This will tell you where flood water might enter your property, how fast it will flow and where it could cause the worst damage.

The surveyor can then use this information to help you choose the best flood protection for your property. Installing the wrong flood protection products could mean they are ineffective, or even cause more damage in a flood.

Choose BSI kitemark certified flood protection products that meet the British standard for quality and safety.

You can also follow the guidance and checklists in the property resilience Code of Practice to make sure the surveys, installations or building work are completed to the correct standard.

Installing flood protection products

Some flood protection products can be in place permanently, while others need to be installed when flooding is expected.

For example:

  • flood doors
  • air bricks
  • hydrosacks

Find out about the different flood protection products and where to get them on the National Flood Forum Blue Pages website. Not all products listed on the blue pages are BSI Kitemark certified products.

Make changes to your property

You can also make changes to your property that will make it easier and cheaper to clean up if you do flood:

  • lay ceramic tiles on your ground floor and use rugs instead of fitted carpets
  • raise the height of electrical sockets to at least 1.5 metres above the ground floor level
  • use lime plaster instead of gypsum on walls
  • fit stainless steel or plastic kitchens instead of chipboard ones, or have freestanding units you can move
  • position any main parts of a heating or ventilation system, like a boiler, upstairs or raised well above the ground floor
  • fit non-return valves to all drains and water inlet pipes
  • replace wooden window frames and doors with synthetic ones because they are easier to clear

Slow the flow of water around your property

Consider how you might be able slow the flow of water around your property:

  • Avoid concreting outside areas. Use permeable materials like gravel instead.
  • Think about drainage for areas that are prone to standing water.
  • Land owners could think about planting trees and bushes to help slow or reduce rainfall reaching the ground, encourage infiltration and stabilise steep slopes.
  • Look at Sustainable Drainage Solutions.

More information about reducing the risk of flooding in your home or business is available on the National Flood Forum website

Sandbags

Your local authority may have some sandbags ready to deploy at times of flooding. Speak to your local authority to find out what their policy is and if there is a charge for the service.

If your local authority doesn’t supply sandbags, you can buy your own supply from DIY stores and builder’s merchants.

If you live near a watercourse

Find out about the rights and responsibilities of riverside property owners.

Advice for caravan and campsite owners and operators

Find out how to protect your campsite and visitors in a flood.

Extra precautions for farms and agricultural land

Find out about extra precautions to help protect farms and agricultural land from flooding.

Protecting gardens and allotments

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have information about waterlogging and flooding in gardens and what techniques promote drainage and prevent damage.

Explore more

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