How to deal with flood damage

Dealing with the aftermath of flood damage is a miserable business. Not only is it heart-breaking to see your photo albums floating in muddy water, it can also be hugely stressful and inconvenient having to move out.

How to deal with flood damage

How to deal with flood damage


  • Call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for more general flood advice
  • ABI figures show it costs between £2-6k to protect a home from shallow flash floods
  • The National Flood Forum recommends flood protection products, suppliers and builders
  • Flood products should display the BSI Kitemark or PAS1188
  • 2 feet (60cm) of flood water will float a car so don’t try to walk through it

In this article we help you to understand how to prepare for floodwaters, how to minimise damage and how to go about the clean-up operation. Scroll down for advice or jump to the following sections:

  • Is my property at risk?
  • How do I hear of impending floods?
  • General preventative measures
  • What to do when flooding is imminent
  • What to do after a flood
  • Are flood protection grants available for my property?

    Is my property at risk of flooding?
    Visit the Environment Agency and enter your postcode to see if your property is within an area at risk of flood risk from rivers and sea. Do bear in mind that the map doesn’t take into account flooding by surface water, reservoir, sewer or groundwater.

    How do I get to hear of impending floods?
    Knowing when to put temporary flood protection measures in place could save your property and your possessions. Register with the Environment Agency’s Floodline, a free service that provides warnings by phone, text or email. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the weather forecasts and if there is a flood on the way make sure you tell your neighbours and help them out, particularly if they’re old or infirm.
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    General preventative measures to minimise flood damage:
  • Structural amends include raising damp proof brick courses and installing special draining systems for cavity walls, but do seek professional advice from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
  • You can also fit non-return valves to drains and inlet/outlet pipes as well as fitting a pump in your basement.
  • It’s worth stocking up on sandbags but do bear in mind they’re heavy to move and once water comes into contact with them they’re a source of contamination.
  • You could also consider buying purpose-built flood boards for external doors and windows so that these can be installed when flooding is predicted.
  • In your bathroom and kitchen water-resistant materials like stainless steel, plastic and solid wood will serve you better than chipboard. If possible raise fridges and appliances on plinths.
  • High winds can demolish roofs and let gallons of rainwater in so make sure loose roof tiles are secured and broken tiles are fixed.
  • A sudden deluge of water will overload gutters and downpipes so make sure they’re clear of blockages
  • Ask friends or relatives who live in unaffected areas to look after your pets in the event of flooding.
  • Scan important documents and email them to a family member for safekeeping
  • Raise electricals like fuse boxes, sockets and wiring to 1.5 metres above floor level. If possible do the same with TVs, gaming stations and hi-fis.
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    What to do when flooding is imminent:
    Keep calm and…
  • Turn off your electricity, gas and water supplies at the mains.
  • Disconnect appliances connected to pipes incase of movement during flooding
  • Place valuables and important documents (like birth certificates and insurance policies) in secure plastic bags, high up out of harm’s way.
  • Move electrical items upstairs or high up. Heavy white goods like freezers should be raised on bricks.
  • Where possible move furniture upstairs or raise on bricks. If a piece of furniture is too large to carry weigh it down so it doesn’t float around and cause damage
  • Fix flood boards to frames around windows and doors.
  • Leave internal doors open or, if time permits, remove them and store upstairs
  • Move your car to higher ground
  • Move family and pets to a safe place
  • Pack a flood kit of essentials containing copies of your home insurance, a torch and batteries, medicines, bottled water, non-perishable food items, a mobile phone and a battery-operated radio
  • Be ready to evacuate if necessary
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    What to do after a flood:
  • NEVER touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water. If your electricity supply isn’t switched off call in a professional
  • Check in on vulnerable neighbours or relatives
  • Be careful when walking in floodwater as the water may be polluted with sewage or contain concealed dangers like open manhole covers
  • Call your home insurer as soon as possible who will most likely send out a loss adjustor who can assess the damage and arrange repairs. Don’t throw anything away before the loss adjuster has assessed the damage. Don’t throw anything away before the loss adjuster has assessed the damage
  • List all damage to your property and belongings (including food in your fridge and freezer). It’s also a good idea to photograph or video the damage.
  • When cleaning up wear protective gloves and wellies. Use a regular garden hose over high pressure hose which will only cause contaminated water to spray everywhere.
  • Remember if flooding is severe you could be out of your home for weeks maybe months but your home insurer should provide alternative accommodation for you and your family.
  • Let your property dry out thoroughly before redecorating. Drying out brickwork can take some months so be patient.
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    Are flood protection grants available for my property?
    The government makes available flood protection grants for homes in high risk areas such as Eamont Bridge in Cumbria. To find out if you are eligible you’ll need to contact your local authority.
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