Be Flood Prepared: Respond and Recover Quicker

Closes 29 Feb 2028

Opened 7 Mar 2024



Prepare: take control and be ready

Respond: know what to do

Recover: protect your personal and financial wellbeing

Cleaning and repairs: getting back to normal


This page is for residents and business owners at flood risk. You will find information on preparing for flooding, such as our free Flood Warning Service. We also provide practical advice on responding to flood alerts and warnings. These steps will increase your flood resilience, making getting back to normal after a flood easier, cheaper and faster. 

The last sections are on recovery. Here you will find useful and practical information on looking after yourself and other, drying and cleaning your property and keeping safe when doing this.

Prepare: take control and be ready

Planning ahead for flooding is straightforward, quick and free. Getting ready before a flood saves you money on recovery and time spent out of the property. Meaning getting back to normal quicker.

Local Resilience Forums help to coordinate responses to emergencies such as flooding. You can find more local information for Hertfordshire and London as well as contact information.

Know your flood risk

Check here to see your flood risk level and where is comes from. Knowing this will help you prepare for future flooding.

Flood Warning Service

To prepare for main river flooding in the future, the Environment Agency manages the Flood Warning Service. We encourage all property owners at risk to sign up to this free service. It will give you advanced warning of potential flooding. You can do this here.

Met Office Weather Alerts

If you are at risk of surface water flooding, you can sign up to weather alerts here.

Develop flood plans

For all types of flooding, a personal flood plan helps you keep yourselves and most important possessions safe during a flood.

A community flood plan helps the community identify vulnerable people and trigger points for community-led response.

A business flood plan helps businesses to protect their valuables and employees, meaning they can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Become a flood warden

Flood wardens provide a vital link between the at-risk community and us at the Environment Agency. Flood wardens inform the responsible government body of blockages that can cause flooding and help raise awareness among the community.

Flood wardens also tell us and the council about issues in the community, helping us build a better understanding of flooding in the area and help us develop more suitable approaches to reducing flood risk.

If you are interested and would like to know more, please contact Please include where you live so we can direct you to the appropriate team.


Main river flooding: In an emergency, if you see anything that can lead to flooding in rivers (overgrown vegetation, blocked trash screens, objects blocking the river flow) call us: 0800 80 70 60

Help us build a better picture of flooding in your area by sending videos and pictures to Your information helps us develop better approaches to flooding. see 'Report flooding' document below for more information

Surface Water flooding: Report surface water flooding and anything that can lead to it (for example, blocked drains or gullys) to your local council.

Property Flood Resilience (PFR)

Property Flood Resilience is a set of modifications and products added to a building to reduce the amount of water entering a building. It can reduce flood damage and speed up recovery after a flood. These cannot elimate flood risk but they lower the impact and disruption of flooding.

While these measures are not free, communities with them installed recover faster and have cheaper recovery costs. Read more about PFR here

Respond: know what to do

When you sign up to our Flood Warning System, we will send out warnings and alerts when you are at risk of main river (fluvial) flooding. 

Report flooding to our incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60

This is issued between 2 hours and 2 days ahead of flooding. It means that flooding is possible, and you should be prepared.

What should I do?

  • Keep up with flood updates: Check for flooding - GOV.UK (
  • Pack a bag with vital items like insurance documents and medications
  • Check you know how to turn off your gas, electricity and water
  • Plan how you will move your family and pets to safety

This is issued between 30 minutes to 1 day ahead of flooding. It means that flooding is expected, and immediate action is required.

What should I do?

  • Move family and pets to safety
  • Move important items to safety
  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if it is safe to do so. DO NOT touch an electrical switch if you are standing in water
  • If owned, use property protection products such as flood barriers and air brick covers
  • Continue to monitor flood updates: Check for flooding - GOV.UK (

This is issued when flooding poses a significant threat to life.

What should I do?

  • Call 999 if you are in immediate danger
  • Follow any advice given from the emergency services
  • Make sure you have an emergency kit including a torch, batteries, mobile phone and charger, important phone numbers, water, food, medicines and a first aid kit
  • Alert your neighbours and offer help if it is safe to do so
  • Avoid walking and driving through flood water, just 30cm of fast flowing water could move your car and even shallow moving water can knock you off your feet
  • Keep yourself and family away from flood water, it may contain hidden dangers
  • Wash your hands if you have been in contact with flood water

When you have received warnings, make sure you:

  1. Call 999 if you are in immediate danger
  2. Move your family and possessions to a high place.
  3. Check vulnerable family or neighbours are safe.
  4. Turn of gas and electrics before flood waters enter the property.
  5. Fill jugs and saucepans with clean water.

Recover: protect your personal and financial wellbeing

After a flood

After a flood, water levels may rise and fall for several weeks depending on drainage and any further rainfall.

Avoid entering flood water unless absolutely necessary. Flood water can be much deeper than it appears and hide dangers, such as uncovered manholes and sharp objects.

If you must enter flood water, move slowly and carefully, avoiding fast-moving water. Keep updated on weather reports. Call Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or visit Flood alerts and warnings - GOV.UK ( for the latest flood warnings 24 hours a day.

a. Check the policy. Insurers may pay costs for temporary accommodation and clean up.
b. Take photographs or video footage of all damage.
c. Mark the water levels on the walls before they recede.
d. Always ensure the insurance company has given approval before going ahead with any repair work.
e. Do not dispose of any item until you are told to do so. If in doubt take photos of the effects of flooding on your property.

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

If you are unclear or do not know, contact the National Flood Forum for support on 01299 403055, and the Association of British Insurers. Check Chapter 3 and Appendix 3 for more information.

Flood RE

Flood RE is a scheme designed for people who have experienced a flood. It provides help that could reduce the insurance cost homeowners pay in high flood-risk areas. Flood RE also gives homeowners access to affordable insurance premiums.

To find out more information, visit

Looking after yourself

Mental health can be the last thing we think about after a flood when there are urgent matters that require our attention. Remember: flooding is stressful. It is normal to feel tired, anxious and have difficulty sleeping.

It is important to ask yourself how you are feeling and to reach out to friends, family or neighbours if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Healthcare professionals are aware mental health can suffer after flooding, so contact your GP practice or NHS 111. You can also speak to:

It is vital that you speak to children about how they are feeling. They will be experiencing the same emotions as you but probably be more confused. Talk to them about what is happening and reassure them they are safe.

Cleaning and repairs: getting back to normal

Do not overdo it when cleaning up. Tiredness, difficulty sleeping and anxiety are normal in these circumstances.

Wash your hands regularly, this is the most important way of removing harmful bugs and any chemicals found in flood water. Wash with warm, soapy water, then rinse and dry thoroughly after being in contact with flood water, sewage or any item that has been in the water. 

Anyone with concerns for their health should contact their GP for advice or call NHS 111. To check your scheduled appointment is unaffected (eg GP, outpatient, inpatient at local hospital), use your local health service numbers.

NHS Choices is also a good source of local health service information

- Camera and film to record flood damage. This will help your insurance claim. If you have any before flooding pictures, this will help show the level of damage caused.
- Basic tool kit.
- Brooms, scrubbing brushes, mops and buckets, domestic detergent and disinfectant.
- Rubber boots, gloves and protective clothing. We advise this clothing when cleaning as flood water can be contaminated with sewage, chemicals or animal faeces/ urine.
- Vacuum cleaners. Only use after a qualified electricians has checked your electricity. High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) vacuums have very fine filters useful to filter out contaminates. Wet vacuums collect water from hard and soft surfaces (such as carpets). This water can be flushed down drains or sinks. Do not use normal vacuums on wet surfaces. Use face masks and goggles as vacuum cleaners may produce dust or water droplets.
- Heaters and fans. These will help to dry out your property. Only use them after your electricity supply has been checked by a qualified electrician.
- Heavy duty bin bags. We advise using thick bags for any sharp objects.

Turn off the electricity supply. Do not reconnect it until the system has been thoroughly examined by a qualified electrician.
Turn off the gas supply and get the system checked by a CORGI registered engineer before use.
If you smell gas in your home call National Grid Gas and Electricity Service immediately on 0800 111 999.
Mains supply water services should not be affected by flooding. However, run taps for a short time to ensure that silt has not entered the system. If you suspect the mains water is contaminated, contact your local water company.
If your mains water is affected, boil tap water for at least 20 minutes before use.

Scrub surfaces with hot soapy water and a heavy-duty detergent. If available, a working dishwasher is a more efficient way to clean and sanitise smaller items.
Clean and disinfect work tops, plates, cutlery and chopping boards before using with food. Discard wooden chopping boards and wooden spoons if contaminated by floodwater.
Dispose of any soft furnishings, clothes and foodstuffs that have come into contact with flood water. Wash soft items (clothing, bedding and children’s toys) on a 60°C cycle with detergent. Wash your cleaning clothes separately from your normal clothes.
If you suspect problems with your drainage system, we recommend you use a launderette for washing large quantities of clothes and linens until your waste-water system has been checked.
Specialist firms can advise if it is possible to restore precious personal items that have been damaged or contaminated.

The property may take several months to dry naturally. Cleaning and sanitising must be carried out before you start drying out your property and its contents.
Record the meter readings before recovery, energy used in recovery can be re-claimed as part of your insurance.
The drying process must be controlled to ensure moisture trapped within the structure is removed. If your gas or oil central heating has been checked by an engineer, turn it on and keep the temperature between 20oC & 22oC for steady drying. Do not use fuel-powered appliances indoors. The exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide which can kill.
Remove dirty water and silt when safe to do so, including under the ground floor which may need pumping out.
Open doors and windows to help ventilate the property. Unblock air bricks to any underfloor space to give cross ventilation. Loose material and dust that appears because of the drying process should be vacuumed up regularly.
Take care to ensure your house and valuables are secure.
Mould and fungal spores in the home is a sign of dampness that needs to be checked by specialist, especially after a flood event. If you believe that you have extensive fungal growth in your property and that your health might be affected, you should consult your GP.

Appoint builders and other specialists to get repairs done. Your insurance company may list suppliers that you must use, or you can identify a suitably qualified company yourself.
Contact your local council about disposing of used sandbags or damaged furniture. If they cannot collect these, they will know where and how to dispose of these or when they may be collected.
Beware of bogus tradesmen. Check references and NEVER pay cash in advance. Always get signed receipts for all work that is done.
Get several quotes from firms recommended by neighbours, friends, your local authority, insurance company or loss adjuster.
You can find information on personal protection equipment, pumps and products that increase your property’s resilience to flooding from blue pages.

Why your views matter

Inform us about flooding: see 'Report flooding' document below for more information

We are keen to work with local councils and community groups in at-risk areas. If you are a local council, charity or community group and you would like our support in preparing for, responding to and recovering from flooding, please get in touch!


  • Anyone from any background


  • Business and industry
  • Flood management
  • Coastal management
  • Water resources
  • Drought
  • Specific projects, issues, or activity pages