In the event of a flood, if you haven't already purchased sandbags, you can use readily available materials around the home that will do the same job (see information on this below).
- Check Flood Warnings and Alerts in your area.
- Sign up to get warnings in England by phone, email or text message if your home or business is at risk of flooding. The service is free.
The Environment Agency provide a dedicated Floodline information service on 0345 988 1188. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week (find out about call charges).
Flood warning information can be obtained through the Environment Agency's website, which is updated every 15 minutes. You can search for flood warnings by postcode, river, or town.
Am I at risk of flooding?
The Flood Map on the Environment Agency's website can establish how vulnerable your property may be to flooding. See if you are at risk.
Flash floods – what to do
Flash floods happen when an exceptional amount of rain falls in a very short time – and, though still rare, climate change and an increase in thunderstorms means they are becoming more commonplace.
- Flash floods are extremely destructive so being prepared could save lives. Be aware and know the signs:
- Heavy rain or severe weather reports.
- Rising water levels with dark, churning water.
- A build up of debris in rivers and streams which could block the flow of water.
Do not walk or drive through flood water
- In a flash flood most injuries - and even deaths - happen when people try to cross flood water on foot or in a vehicle.
- It only takes 15cm of fast flowing water to knock an adult over and only 60cms of water to lift and sweep away a 4 x 4 or small lorry.
- There may also be hidden dangers in the water like rubble and exposed drains.
- Plan where to go if you get caught in a flash flood
- If you are in a building with at least two storeys and believe you are safe to stay where you are then you should move to a higher floor and wait for instructions from the emergency services.
- If you are in vulnerable accommodation like a bungalow or basement without access to higher floors, or if you are outside, you should seek shelter in the nearest two-storey building or find higher ground.
- Call 999 if you are trapped.
- Click here for a leaflet containing further information
Floodline Warnings Direct service can offer you further advice about how to prepare for flooding. Call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 or visit the website.
While we will always try to help vulnerable residents, our advice to anyone concerned that their home is at risk of flooding is to buy sandbags from a hardware store. You can also use pillow cases, refuse sacks and carrier bags. Sand can be purchased from DIY stores, but please note that garden soil can be used.
Fill the bag with garden soil and then stamp down so there are no gaps, and it will do the same job. The important thing is that they get heavy really quickly, so don't overfill them. Then just tuck the open end under the bag. In anything other than a severe flood, a height of two sandbags is usually enough, overlapping like bricks in a wall, with a plastic sheet or bin bag laid on the ground underneath.
If your property is at risk of flooding here are some measures you might consider:
- Low embankments around your property
- Raising the flood threshold level of your property
- Construction of a storm porch to protect the entrance of your house from the weather
- Walls/solid fencing
- Flood resistant gates
- Outside wall renders and facings, including veneer walling (a thin protective wall coating)
- Non-return valves in waste pipes and outlets
- Portable items such as free-standing barriers, door boards and flood skirts
- Airbrick covers, including periscope covers that seal automatically during a flood, preventing floodwater getting into your property
- Water-resistant external doors
- Pump & sump systems to extract floodwater
- Sealing of floors (known as "tanking")
- Using concrete to fill under-floor voids or delay flooding from the ground
- Raising electrical sockets, TV points etc
- Flood resilient kitchens (plastic, stainless steel, free standing removable units)
- Raising white goods such as kitchen units or other at-risk items
- Storage of at-risk items off the floor or upstairs
- Changes to internal walls to speed recovery after a flood (e.g. different rendering; dry-lining; horizontal use of plasterboard)
- Flood resilient skirting – skirting boards that are plastic and glued rather than nailed are more resistant to floods
- Internal doors that can be easily moved to safety during a flood
Clear up measures after a flood1. Although medical problems after flooding in the UK are rare, floodwater can be contaminated. Follow these simple rules and you should not experience any additional health problems:
- Use protective clothing - waterproof boots and gloves - while cleaning up
- Always wash your hands with soap and clean water after using the toilet, before eating or preparing food, after being in contact with flood water or when taking part in cleanups
- Don’t allow children to play in floodwater areas and make sure they wash their hands frequently (always before meals). Wash contaminated toys with hot water or disinfectant
- Clean open cuts or sores and don’t expose to flood water. Use waterproof plasters
- Harmful bacteria such as E. coli 0157 can pass into floodwater. Although any bacteria is likely to be substantially diluted, anyone with a stomach upset following flooding or contact with sewage should seek medical advice
- Floodwater containing oil or diesel should disperse naturally. Any remnants can be removed using detergent. Inaccessible areas (such as under floorboards) may present an odour problem, but not necessarily a health hazard
- As floorboards and walls dry out after a flood, any loose material should be vacuumed up
- Children should not play on timber floorboards or any damaged tiled floors immediately after flooding. Check first for sharp edges on tiles or raised nails in boards
- Help for vulnerable and elderly people returning to their houses is available from Social Services on 01629 533190
- Contact your Doctor if you become ill after accidentally swallowing contaminated water
- Replace manhole covers dislodged by floods
2. Gardens and Play Areas
3. If the inside of your home is affected:
- Remove all soft furnishings and fittings that are damaged beyond repair
- Remove dirty water and silt from the property including the space under the ground floor if you have wooden floors. This space may need pumping out. Allow to dry thoroughly
- Wash down all hard surfaces with hot soapy water until they look clean
- Heating and good ventilation will assist the drying process
- Don’t eat any food that has come into contact with sewage or floodwater. Use boiled water, which has then been allowed to cool, to wash food which is eaten raw
- Don’t use electrical appliances that have been in contact with floodwater until checked by a competent electrician. Your local Electricity Company will check mains supplies