How to prepare for a flood

If you're at risk of flooding, take steps now to reduce the threat to your property
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A little investment now can stand you in good stead. If you're at risk of flooding, you can take steps to reduce the threat to your property. Being prepared can also have a positive effect on your insurance premium, so read on!

Get ready

If your property is in an area at high risk then the odds are not in your favour. However, you can still take steps to minimise the damage caused.

  • Sign up to the Environment Agency's Flood Warnings Direct service. They will keep you in the know!
  • Check your home insurance cover or get a quote from alternative providers. Flood risk insurance is a must for homes already known to be at risk, not an optional extra.
  • Make a note of where the taps or switches you need to turn off your gas and electricity are.
  • Prepare a flood survival kit. Don’t forget to pack copies of your insurance documents, clean drinking water and a torch.
  • Make a contact plan for getting in touch with your family in an emergency. How will you contact them? Where will you meet them?
  • Move electrical appliances, valuable items and furniture upstairs.

Flood warnings

Flood Alert

flood alert sign

Flooding is possible. This alert will usually be issued a few days before flooding is anticipated. It is when you should prepare a flood survival kit and move valuables or furniture upstairs.

Flood Warning

flood warning sign

Flooding is expected. If this warning is issued then you should install any flood protection equipment such as toilet bungs, sandbags and flood gates. Shut off your utilities including gas, electricity and water supplies. Make plans to evacuate your family, pets and vulnerable neighbours to a safe place outside of the flood area.

Severe Flood Warning

severe flood warning sign

Flooding is imminent and now poses a serious threat to life. You should stay in a safe place with a clear escape route. Emergency services will be in the area and you should comply with their advice. If you are in immediate danger then always call 999.


Flood defences

Specialist flood protection products can make a huge difference to the state of your home after a flood; they’re well worth investigating if you are at risk.

Airbrick protection

airbrick flood protection

Airbrick covers can prevent water from entering through walls.


sandbags flood protection

Sandbags can provide useful protection around entrances and windows.

Doorway protection

doorway flood protection

A barrier between the brickwork which seals against the door frame and the bottom step.

Toilet pan seal

toilet bung flood protection

Prevents sewage back-flow through the toilet system.



Flood survival kit

Research shows 9% have not looked into protecting their home, believing it won’t happen to them.

Preparing a flood survival kit could make all the difference should the worst happen. Here are some essentials:

  • Use water-tight containers with lockable lids to store important documents, such as your insurance policy schedule. It’s also recommended to keep digital copies that can always be accessed.
  • Vacuum-packing warm blankets, waterproofs and a change of clothes can save space.
  • Pack a first-aid kit with waterproof plasters. Remember any important medications you might need!
  • Flood water is unsafe to drink so be sure to pack bottled water. You might also pack tinned or dry foods that are easy to open.
  • Include a torch and a good supply of batteries, as well as a whistle.
  • Emergency cash and passports are also well worth having at the ready.

flood survival kit

What to do when it floods

what to do in a flood

Don’t panic. Your safety and the safety of those around you is paramount in this situation.

If a flood warning has been issued in enough time, you should leave your property and take your survival kit as well as any essential items well ahead of the flood waters reaching your home.

If you cannot, as flooding has a habit of happening overnight, then avoid driving and walking through it. Do not try to swim unless you absolutely have to; flood water is really unsanitary and currents can be strong.

Debris is another thing to look out for, as you never know what might be lurking beneath the surface. Avoid injuries by finding a clear path. If you have been able to contact emergency services, then stay on higher levels and wait for rescue.

In severe flooding, don’t try to be a hero. Let emergency services do their job safely.

Keeping children and pets safe

pets in a flood

Children and animals are particularly at risk during a flood. Of course they will be frightened – who wouldn’t be when a river takes up residence in your home! But they may not understand what is happening or know how to stay safe.

If a flood warning is issued in your area then you should make arrangements to evacuate children and pets as early as possible. Not only is it safer for them but it may also be safer for you as you know that they are being looked after. You can concentrate on limiting the damage to your property and belongings.

Don’t let your children or pets play in flood water. Flood water can hide dangerous debris. Also swallowing flood water or mud can cause diarrhoea, fever or abdominal pain.

Remember to include emergency essentials for your pets when preparing your flood survival kit.

National Flood Emergency Framework

The UK National Flood Emergency Framework is a Government document which details the level of response to a flood. You can view it in detail online here.


Events routinely handled by local government and the emergency services.

Flooding with local, small scale evacuation, no risk to critical infrastructure. No significant central government involvement.


Severe weather with limited consequences. Floods in more than one county, some displaced persons and potential risk to infrastructure.

The Lead Government Department Minister runs the crisis response with their own emergency facilities.


Has a prolonged impact requiring sustained central government support. Floods in several counties, hundreds of displaced persons, actual disruptions to critical infrastructure.

Response coordinated from Cabinet Office Briefing Room, response may require deployment of wider military resources.


A high impact incident which requires immediate central government direction. Floods affecting significant portions of the country, thousands of displaced people and serious damage to critical infrastructure.

Prime Minister or Secretary of State leads in the event of a catastrophic incident.

In an emergency call 999. For non-emergency situations please call 101.

After a flood

don't drink flood water

Stay vigilant when returning to your home as flood water can be dangerous. It’s probably still worthwhile keeping children and pets away from the home until it has dried out.

Obvious dangers to look out for include damaged tiles, loose floorboards or skirting boards and exposed nails. As well as that flood water is highly unsanitary. Avoid getting water on your skin and disinfect your hands regularly.

Don’t turn on your gas or electrics until they have dried out and been checked by a qualified technician.

Don’t eat food that has touched flood water and contact your water company to verify the tap water is safe to use again.

Make sure that you keep the house well ventilated so that air can circulate and allow the property to dry out.

Stay with friends or family, or contact your Local Authority to find alternative accommodation.

Cleaning up after a flood

emergency services in a flood

Take photographs before you start cleaning. Notify your insurer before throwing away items that cannot be cleaned, like carpets.

Wear wellington boots and rubber gloves to clean up and be sure to wash your hands afterwards!

clean after flood hosepipe

Clean all surfaces including walls and floors with hot water and strong detergent. Surfaces contaminated by sewage need to be disinfected.

Clothing and other fabrics that have been affected by flood water should be thoroughly cleaned. Wash on a 60 degree cycle.

clean after flood cement

When removing rubbish, place it in skip bins or in rubbish bags away from your home.

Rats can also be an issue. Dispose of dead rats and other pests in a bag, or get in touch with your Local Authority.

You may notice mould growing on damp walls, this should stop as your home dries out but if it persists, contact a specialist.

Helpful resources


Defra is the UK Government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency plays a pivotal role in implementing changes nationwide.

Flood Warnings

The Environment Agency’s section on flooding. From here, you can sign up for flood warnings or quickly check your area by postcode.

National Flood Forum

The National Flood Forum houses a large community who offer advice to those who are ‘at risk’ of flooding.

Know Your Flood Risk

A campaign to help raise awareness of the wider flooding issue in the UK and a source of support.

Flood Re

Visit the Flood Re website for an overview of the scheme and its management.

Satisfied customers

I bought my new house and was misinformed about if the property had been flooded. I found out it had and was extremely worried about the cost [of insurance cover]. After completing the questionnaire I was surprised how reasonable the cost was. Also the level of cover compared to other insurance companies is extremely competitive. It's never something I look forward to doing but was quick and easy and finished in minutes. Review Centre, 30 April 2017
Living in a flood plain and having previously made a claim for subsidence I wasn't hopeful that we would get a competitive quote - how wrong I was. We now have a comprehensive insurance which includes contents cover for less than we previously paid for buildings cover. Great insurance with a lot of help from the staff to get the best cover. Thank you. Review Centre, 21 June 2017
This was one of the best offers I could find for insurers willing to protect my property within 200m of a water course. This is because they are part of the Flood:Re scheme which offers affordable premiums to properties more liable to flooding. Review Centre, 7 August 2017