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During and after a flood

Staying safe

  • Listen to BBC local radio which has a special role to provide emergency information.
  • Avoid coming into contact with floodwater, which may be contaminated by silt, sewage, oil or chemicals. Don't let children play in floodwater.
  • Don't eat food that may have been in contact with floodwater.
  • Use only crockery, cutlery and work surfaces that have first been disinfected.
  • Wash cuts and grazes and cover with a waterproof plaster.
  • Seek medical advice if you have symptoms of diarrhoea, fever or abdominal pain.
  • Avoid walking through flood water - 15cm of fast flowing water can knock you over.
  • Don't walk along river banks or cross river bridges if avoidable.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated and enclosed areas where hazardous fumes may build up.
  • Call 999 if you are in danger, or people have been injured.

If you are evacuated

  • Leave your home if the emergency services advise you to. Refusing to leave on their advice will put your family and those trying to help you at risk.
  • Food and bedding will be provided at the evacuation centre. Bring clothing, medication and babycare items. If possible, bring pets in a secure carrier together with pet food.
  • Tell someone if you intend to stay with friends or relatives instead of going to the evacuation centre.
  • Contact your local council for advice about temporary shelters or accommodation if you are evacuated from your home.

Recovering from a flood

  • Contact your home insurer as soon as possible. They will arrange for a loss adjuster and other specialists to visit your home to assess the damage.
  • If you think your home has suffered structural damage get professional advice.
  • Before switching on your gas and electricity supply and appliances have them checked by a qualified technician.
  • Unblock/uncover air bricks, vents and pipes before switching everything back on.
  • Dispose of any food that may have been contaminated by floodwater. The Food Standards Agency and the Health Protection Agency have some useful advice.
  • Wear protective clothes, boots and rubber gloves whilst cleaning-up. Use a brush, soapy water and heavy duty cleaner then rinse well.
  • Use a pump or buckets to get rid of standing water and shovel out mud. Hose out remaining sediments and follow up with a wet/dry vacuum.
  • Disinfect all areas affected after cleaning and make sure you wash your hands with disinfectant afterwards.
  • People who are allergic to mould should not be involved in the clean-up.
  • Take furniture, bedding and clothing outside to dry in order to avoid mould forming.
  • Use fans, heaters and dehumidifiers to dry out the building, and keep the central heating on at 22 degrees or above.
  • Drying out can take weeks or even months. Done too quickly it can cause structural damage and long term problems.
  • Good ventilation is essential so keep windows and doors open on dry days but remember to keep the property secure when vacant.
  • Flood waste taken to local tips will be classified as controlled waste and must be handled properly. Waste management firms can be found in the Yellow Pages or on
Published: 30 Jan 2015
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