Floods don’t care - time to prepare for a wet winter

17 Dec 2021
4 min read
Flooded home interior

Check, Prepare, Act to keep you and your loved ones safe from flooding

If you know your property is at risk of flooding, investing time ahead of the winter storm season is time well spent and may reduce an awful lot of heartache.

Listed below are a few things to think about to plan in advance of a flood. Whilst the list is not exhaustive, it’ll certainly help you and when thinking about it, you can add things that are personal to your own circumstances.

The first thing is to check if you are at risk of flooding at www.gov.uk/check-flooding.

Preparing for a flood

  • Make sure you have the correct insurance cover – please check flooding is covered by your insurance provider.
  • Sign up for a free Environment Agency Flood Warning.
  • Find out how to turn off your gas, electricity and water supplies.
  • Keep a list of useful telephone numbers (including your GP details, insurance claim line & policy number).
  • Put together an emergency flood kit.
  • Think about the needs of children, babies, elderly, the disabled who live at home at home and of course, your pets.
  • Take detailed photos of your property and contents NOW before any flood occurs.
  • Make an action plan to use in the event of a flood. Read this guide for more information.
  • Always plan to move your car to higher ground first, as you don’t want a flooded home and a flooded car!
  • Identify and list urgent actions in priority of value.
  • What needs to be moved upstairs?
  • Research how you are going to prevent water entering your home.
  • Make sure you have the means to keep warm. Have some food and flasks that are stored so that they are safe from flooding.
  • Make sure mobile phone chargers, computer data and photographs are stored safely.
  • Most things can be replaced, family photographs, often cannot – move them to safety in good time.

Did you know?

  • 15 cms (six inches) of fast flowing water can knock you over.
  • 60 cms (two feet) of water will float your car.
  • Just an egg cupful of water can wreck an engine.
  • Flooding can cause manhole covers to come off, leaving hidden dangers.

What to do if a flood does occur  

  • Don’t walk or drive through flood water. As there are so many hidden hazards and the water may be too deep to drive through and you may well than face an insurance claim for your car.
  • Don’t let children play in flood water.
  • Don’t walk on sea defences or riverbanks.
  • When water levels are high be aware that bridges may be dangerous to walk or drive over.
  • Culverts are dangerous when flooded.
  • Look out for other hazards such as fallen power lines and trees.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly if you touch floodwater as it will be contaminated.
  • Don’t forget to check on your neighbours.

After a flood

  • Don’t go back into your home until you have been told it’s safe to do so.
  • Phone your insurance company as soon as possible, many have 24 hours help lines during a flood.
  • Take photos and a video of the damage, this includes the contents of fridge and freezer.
  • Mark a line on the wall as to where the water came up to.
  • Wear gloves when touching anything that is wet as it may well be contaminated.
  • Cut a piece of your carpet and save it for the loss adjuster. Once carpets are outside, try to keep windows and doors open to aid ventilation but remember to lock up every time you leave your home as sadly unscrupulous thieves never miss an open door.

For more detailed advice on how to recover from a flood, visit Mary Dhonau’s website.

Tips on tradesmen

  • Beware of those who can start the next day – reputable ones are usually busy.
  • Beware of offers not to charge VAT.
  • Ask to be put in touch with past clients to see samples of work.
  • Beware of someone who gives only a mobile number and no business address.
  • If someone calls and says that they are from the Insurance Company – check first.
  • If in doubt, contact your Insurance Company/Insurance Adjuster.
  • You can use your own trusted builder if you so choose so book a local reputable builder early. There could be a real shortage of builders.
  • Don’t pay in advance, do pay in stages, and don’t make the final payment until you are happy with the work.

Consider installing Property Flood Resilience Measures

  • Have you thought about protecting your property against the possibility of future flooding?
  • Self-closing airbricks, flood barriers, flood doors, non-return valves, pumps and absorbent cushions can significantly reduce the awful impact a flood can bring.
  • For more details, read the homeowners guide to flood resilience.

Flooding is sadly a new reality for many of us in the UK

Due to climate change the number of flooding events is increasing and the number of homes at risk from floods is growing each year. However, if you are at risk of flooding then a few simple measures will make the world of difference if the worst should happen. Check your flood risk today, make a plan and keep your loved ones safe.


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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