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Preparing for a flood
Flooding can cause widespread damage to your home and belongings. Making plans in advance can reduce the chances of your home being flooded and can also save your life. Find out how you can prepare for flooding and protect your home from flood damage.
Planning ahead to prevent flood damage
The best way to reduce the risk of flooding to your home and protect your property is by having a flood plan.
A flood plan can help you act quickly and make practical decisions in the event of a flood. The flood plan should contain useful contact details of organisations like Floodline and your insurance and utility companies.
You can download a personal flood plan from the Environment Agency’s website.
Protecting your home against flooding
You can prepare your home against the risk of flooding by taking a few, practical steps:
- check your home and buildings insurance covers flooding
- find out if damaged belongings will be replaced with new ones
- if you rent, contact your landlord to find out about the insurance cover for your flat or house
- make sure you know how to turn off your gas, water or electricity – if you are not sure, ask your supplier for advice
- keep a kit of essential items like copies of your insurance documents, a battery powered torch and radio and a first aid kit
- buy special protection flood products like floodboards and airbrick covers to help reduce flood damage
- check your flood protection products have a British Standards Institution (BSI) Kitemark - this means they have been tested to a recognised standard
Check out the National Flood Forum's 'Blue Pages', an independent directory of flood protection products and services.
Knowing the different types and sources of floods
There are different types of floods and they can happen at any time and anywhere. Knowing the different types and sources of floods can help you to assess the kind of flood risk facing your home.
Flooding from your plumbing system
If there is a flood in your home from your plumbing system, shut off the water supply by closing your inside stop valve (stop tap). If in an emergency, you can’t find or operate the stop valve, try contacting your water company. They may be able to turn off the water at the outside stopcock.
Once you’ve shut off the water supply, contact a plumber to make a repair. You should also switch off the electricity supply to avoid the risk of electrocution.
You may be able to claim on your household insurance for the cost of repairs and damage.
What to do if a main river floods
To report flooding from a main river you should contact the Environment Agency or 'Floodline', the 24-hour advice and information service for floods and flood warnings.
Flooding from watercourses
If you own land or property next to a river or other watercourse (such as a brook, beck or mill stream) you are considered a 'riparian owner'. This means that you should keep the watercourse clear of any obstruction and the council can serve legal notices on you to deal with any obstructions.
Contact your local council's planning department to find out whether you are a riparian owner. More advice on the rights and responsibilities of riparian owners is available from the Environment Agency.
What to do in a flooding emergency
In the event of a flood:
- remember, yours and your family’s safety is most important, so move them and your pets upstairs, with a means of escape
- turn off your electricity and gas supply – if it is safe to do so – but do not touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water
- move valuable items upstairs or to a high point in your property
- to stop flood water from entering your home, you should fit flood protection products like floor boards, airbrick covers, sandbags and toilet bungs
- if you do not have non-return valves fitted, you should plug water inlet pipes with towels or cloths
- disconnect any equipment that uses water, like, washing machines and dishwashers
You may be evacuated to a rest centre. If you think you may need to be evacuated during a flood, remember to pack spare clothing.