Flooding and heavy rain information

Flood warnings

For the latest flood alerts and live river levels, follow the link to the Environment Agency website.

The information on this page will help you prepare for flooding, so please take a few minutes to read through it.

Be prepared

  • Make sure your home is adequately insured and major contents listed
  • Make sure your property is in good repair
  • Know how and where to turn off your water, electricity and gas supplies
  • Acquire carrying boxes or baskets for pets
  • Know your local radio station frequency to find out the latest information during severe weather, including travel updates
  • Read our advice pages on the risk of flooding in your area, and more details on how to prepare for flooding

Before a flood

  • Put your home emergency pack in a safe, accessible place
  • Protect doorways and low level vents with sandbags (remember to unblock these vents before switching everything back on)
  • Consider stocking sandbags now (your council may not be able to supply them)
  • Move valuables, food and other possessions upstairs where possible
  • Turn off gas and electricity if flooding is definitely about to happen to your property

During a flood

  • Co-operate fully with the emergency services
  • Do not switch on electricity or gas until these have been inspected by a qualified engineer
  • Do not use food that has been in contact with flood water
  • Assume that flood water contains sewage
  • Ensure that you wear gloves when handling affected items
  • Thoroughly disinfect and dry affected household items

After a flood

  • Call your insurance company. Tell them what's happened and if possible take photographs of damaged items prior to disposal, as this may help your insurance claim
  • When floodwater recedes, it may leave a muddy deposit and, as well as the distress of clearing up, there may be structural damage to your property
  • Remember that while sandbags will keep water out, they'll also keep it in as water recedes
  • Check the yellow pages under Flood Damage for suppliers of cleaning materials or equipment to dry out your property
  • Contact the gas, electricity and water companies. You'll need to have your supplies checked before you turn them back on
  • Open the doors and windows to ventilate your home (it takes a brick about 25mm/1inch a month to dry out)
  • Remember to unblock your airbricks and doorways, but take care to ensure your house is secure against intruders
  • Contact your doctor if you become ill after accidentally ingesting mud or contaminated water and tell them that your property has been affected by the flooding
  • Watch out for any broken glass or nails whilst you're cleaning up
  • Wash taps and run water for a few minutes before use. Mains tap water should not be contaminated, but check with your local water company if you're concerned
  • Don't turn on any electrical equipment until you're sure it's dried out
  • Always wear rubber gloves to clean surfaces or move objects that have been in contact with floodwater (the water will have been contaminated with sewerage and other pollution)
  • Beware of bogus traders - with so much damage it's tempting to take the first offer that comes along
  • Don't panic if you can't cope. There are organisations which may be able to help or advise such as the Fire and Rescue Services, the local Council and the Citizens Advice Bureaux
  • Remember, don't think it can't happen again - restock your supplies

Drying out and redecorating your property after flooding

  • Initially, all floor coverings should be removed and walls washed with clean water only
  • To help the house to dry out, windows and doors should be left open as much as possible and a fire kept alight or heat provided in each room
  • Lift one or two floorboards, particularly against outside walls, to increase the draught under the floor
  • Any furniture standing near walls should be removed and the wallpaper stripped off the flooded parts of walls
  • Any silt that has found its way under the house should be cleared away and underfloor gratings should be cleared. Silt or earth accumulated against brickwork above the damp-proof course should be cleared away and built-in cupboards left open - especially the one under the staircase
  • Walls may become covered with a white powder as they dry out. This is the salt already present in the bricks and should be brushed off dry
  • Underfloor timbers and floorboards of suspended floors must be dried before replacing floor coverings. It's safer to use loose rugs for six months because the longer the floor remains damp, the greater the chance of rot setting in and this will cause decay and the loss of strength of the wood
  • If the house is built of brick or stone, the walls will take some months to dry out. Don't rush to redecorate
  • If redecoration is necessary, the walls should be treated with an anti-mould solution and decorated with distemper or emulsion paint
  • If the plaster was already perished, it may have been weakened further by the flooding and may need to be replaced. Replastering should be carried out as soon as possible, but then leave the walls bare for a while to dry out
  • Hinges and locks may need oiling to prevent them from seizing up

Contacting your insurance company

  • Contact your insurance company immediately if your home has flooded - the majority of household policies provide insurance cover for flooding
  • If you're a tenant and have taken out contents insurance, household contents and fixtures and fittings should be covered (it's normally the responsibility of your landlord to provide building insurance)
  • If you're uninsured, you may have to arrange for the repair/replacement of fixtures and fittings yourself
  • If your home is uninhabitable and you're insured, your insurers may help you arrange emergency accommodation

Using gardens and play areas

  • Don't let young children play on affected areas until they've been cleaned down and restored to their normal condition
  • Children should always wash their hands after playing outdoors, especially before eating or preparing food
  • Don't eat garden or allotment vegetables that have been covered by sewerage or floodwater
  • Although any health risk may be small, it's better to dispose of any contaminated produce and start again