What to do before, during and after a flood

What to do in a flood

We issue three types of warnings to help you prepare for flooding and take action:

Flood Alert - Flooding is possible, be prepared.

Alerts cover large areas where flooding is possible from rivers or the sea. 

Flood Warning - Flooding is expected, immediate action required.

Warnings cover smaller, community-level areas where we expect to see flooding of properties from rivers or the sea. 

  • move family, pets and valuables to a safe place
  • turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if it is safe to do so
  • put flood protection equipment in place

Severe Flood Warning - Danger to life.

 

Severe warnings are issued when flooding from rivers or the sea may already be happening and there is danger to life. 

  • stay in a safe place with a means of escape
  • be ready to leave your home
  • cooperate with the emergency services
  • call 999 if you are in immediate danger

We cannot issue a flood warning or alert if: 

  • the area is at very low risk of flooding
  • you’re at risk of flooding due to small watercourses, because they flood extremely quickly and we can't give enough time to take preventative action
  • you're at risk of flooding due to surface water, groundwater or sewage flooding
  • our monitoring network or forecasts do not cover that location

Find out how we forecast floods and issue warnings

If you are evacuated

Listen to advice from the emergency services and evacuate when told to do so.

You will be taken to an evacuation centre run by your local council. Free food and bedding is provided but you will need spare clothing, essential medication and baby care items if you have an infant.

Most evacuation centres will let you bring your pets. You should take pet food and remember to put cats and small animals in a pet carrier or secure box.

Report a flood

Blocked drains and gullies

Report flooding caused by blocked drains, gullies or water running off fields to your local authority.

Blocked rivers and landslides

Report flooding caused by blocked rivers, landslides or flooding from rivers and the sea to our 24 hours incident line on 03000 65 3000.

Problems with gas, electricity or sewerage

If you are concerned about floodwater affecting your gas, electricity, water or sewerage services, please call your supplier.

For sewer flooding, or if your toilet or sink is backing up during floods please call your local water company.

Sandbags

Your local authority may have some sandbags ready to deploy at times of flooding, but their priority is to protect the public at large.

You should check with them in advance 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.

Your local authority can also advise what to do with sandbags after a flood. They can be contaminated by flood water, sewage, oil or fuel and may need to be treated as contaminated waste.

Find more advice on sandbags and how to use them to prepare for a flood.

Find local information

  • Call Floodline on 0345 988 1188
  • Check local Facebook groups
  • Tune into your local radio station for updates 
  • Check the latest weather from the Met Office
  • Get traffic updates from the Traffic Wales website
  • Use our live warning map to see if you're at risk from river or coastal flooding

What to do after a flood

Make sure it's safe to return to your property:

  • take care as there may be hidden dangers in floodwater, such as sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollution
  • flood water might have caused structural damage to your property

If your electricity supply has not been switched off at the mains, get a qualified person to do this. DO NOT touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water.

Making an insurance claim

In almost all cases, the insurance company will send a loss adjuster to look at your property. They will confirm what repairs and replacements are needed and which elements are covered by your policy.

Ask the insurance company:

  • How long it will be before the loss adjuster visits
  • If you are to clean your property or if they will get a company to do it for you
  • If they will help pay for repairs that will reduce potential flood damage and therefore reduce costs if it happens again
  • If they will provide you with temporary accommodation - this can be a nearby B&B, static caravan or rented house. You don't have to accept the first place you are offered.

Always make your own record of flood damage:

  • Use a permanent in pen to mark on the wall the height the flood water got to. Do this in every room affected by flooding.
  • Photograph or video your damaged property and list the damage to your property and belongings.
  • If your insurance company covers you for loss of perishable good, make a list of all the foods you throw away. Include any food touched by flood water and anything in your fridge or freezer ruined by loss of power.

Top tips:

  • confirm the insurance company will pay for any services or equipment you need
  • make a note of all telephone calls. Record the date, name and what was agreed
  • keep copies of letters, emails and faxes you send and receive
  • keep receipts
  • don't throw anything away until told (except ruined food)

If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.

If you do not have insurance, your local council should be able to provide information on hardship grants or charities that may be able to help you.

If you need more help and support contact:

Financial support

Your Local Authority can advise you on:

  • Community Flood Recovery Grants
  • Emergency/alternative accommodation
  • Council Tax exemptions

Cleaning your property

Pump water out of your property using a generator:

  • keep the generator outside as they produce carbon monoxide fumes which can kill
  • only pump out water when flood levels outside your property start to be lower than inside - this reduces the risk of structural damage.

Shovel mud evenly from both sides of a wall to stop pressure building up on one side

Clean and disinfect your property. A garden hose is useful but don't use high-pressure hoses because they blast contaminated matter into the air.

Keep doors and windows open to dry out your property or use a dehumidifier with the windows and doors closed.

Make sure your gas and central heating has been checked by an engineer before turning it on.

Local councils usually provide slips and extra rubbish collections for items you can throw away.

Beware of scams

It is important to be aware of rogue traders. If you require specific advice your local authority’s trading standards department and local police force will be able to help you.

You can also contact Citizens Advice. Their Consumer Helpline number is 0808 223 1133 and their Welsh Speaking service is 0808 223 1144.

Here are some general pieces of advice:

  • speak to your insurance company first
  • always check identification - legitimate callers will be happy to wait outside your property while you call their organisation to verify their identification
  • use sites like Trustmark to find registered tradespeople
  • get several quotes for any work
  • check trade body approval or certification
  • don't not feel pressured to commit on the day

If you believe you have been scammed, you can report it to Action Fraud. Report online to Action Fraud or call on 0300 123 2040.

Floodwater is dangerous

It can be contaminated with sewage, chemicals and animal waste so always wash your hands thoroughly.

Never walk, drive through, or let children play in floodwater - six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over and two feet of water will float your car.

Flood water can rise very quickly - never walk on sea defences or river banks and be aware that bridges may be dangerous to walk or drive over.

Be careful of fallen trees and power lines. The flood water can also cause manhole covers to come off and flood culverts.

Before a flood

Start preparing for a flood before it happens. Find out if you're at risk of flooding and how to plan ahead:

How to prepare your home, business or farm for flood

Guidance for caravan and campsite owners

More information and support

All of our information about what to do before, during and after a flood is also available to print:

Who can help - poster (available to print)

Details of other organisations who can offer help and support: