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About to be Flooded

About to be Flooded?

This is a brief section to explain what you can do should a flood be about to occur. It is practical guidance and not exhaustive.

Please see our section Preparing for flooding for details of what you can do before a flood.

During the Flood

The first priority is protecting life: yours and your family’s.

In most situations you will be evacuated to a temporary rest centre or you may choose to go to family or friends. Always follow guidance from Emergency Services on evacuation. If you stay in your home the following advice will prove helpful.

Plan to move upstairs in good time.

Keep Safe, Keep Warm.

Floodwater may be contaminated, especially by untreated sewage. Contamination remains after the floodwater has gone and can be hazardous unless simple procedures are followed:

  • Wear rubber boots and gloves in and around the affected property.
  • Wash all cuts and cover with waterproof plasters. Anyone receiving a puncture wound during flood recovery should have a doctor determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary.
  • Small children, pregnant women and people with health problems should avoid floodwater and flooded areas until the clean-up is complete.
  • However, if you do feel unwell or if you accidentally ingest (swallow) mud or contaminated water and you become ill, you should consult your doctor and tell them that your house was flooded.

Floodwater can damage buildings severely, particularly if it has been flowing quickly, is over 1 m deep or has been in a property for a long time.

  • Before entering property that has been flooded, the building should be checked for signs of damage.
  • Be careful when moving any debris that may have been carried onto your property or the surrounding area. Avoid heavy objects (e.g. trees) that may be unstable and could suddenly move and trap or crush you. Do not attempt to move anything yourself that cannot be lifted comfortably.
  • Be careful when moving in and around property that has been flooded. Standing water and mud can hide holes, damage to structures and sharp objects. This could include uncovered manholes and drains or roads and paths, as well as broken bottles or glass. Be aware of cuts from standing or falling onto hidden hazards and slippery sediment.


Do not approach any structure that may be unsafe.

Do not approach any fast flowing water or deep standing water. If you enter swiftly flowing water, you risk drowning, regardless of your ability to swim. Shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children. Also, do not rely on cars or other vehicles to protect you from floodwaters. If you have to enter floodwater, in all cases move slowly and carefully, make sure you are wearing strong footwear and use a stick to check that you are not about to step into a hole or onto a sharp object. If driving in floods is unavoidable, do so with extreme caution. 6 inches depth of fast flowing water can sweep a 4×4 vehicle off a road.

Turn off the electricity supply to the property until a qualified electrician or utility company has checked out the electrics. Use extreme caution in dealing with electricity. Ensure that all switches, sockets and appliances are checked prior to use, especially if they have been in contact with floodwater. Once all electrical safety checks have been made, make sure that you use a circuit breaker with any electrical equipment that you may use in, or to clean, or repair your property. Watch out for any fallen power lines and do not approach them – be aware that there is always a potential electric shock hazard.

Turn off the gas supply to appliances that have been flooded (or where their vents/flues may have been affected).

Further Information: Before, During and After a Flood

Please see our booklet Ready-For-Flooding for further details about what you can do before, during and after a flood. Remember you can call the National Flood Forum on 01299 403055 for advice at any time.

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