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What to do when your home is flooded

This advice applies to Scotland

Flooding is stressful and difficult, but there are steps you can take if it happens.

Pay attention to flood warnings

If you get a flood warning or flood alert, phone Floodline on 0345 988 1188 for more information and advice.

A severe flood warning means you should prepare to evacuate your home. You should follow the advice of the emergency services during a flood.

Stick to your flood plan and find your flood kit

You should follow the flood plan you prepared. For more information on what to include in a flood plan and emergency kit, read our advice on how to prepare for flooding.

If you do not have a flood plan or emergency kit, take the first practical steps below.

First practical steps

Flooding often happens very quickly. Water can come into your home and recede in minutes. You might have got a flood warning from Floodline and have time to take the following steps:

  • activate any home flood defences you have
  • turn off the gas and electricity at the isolator switch or fuse box, if they have not been affected by the flood water
  • find warm clothes and wellies
  • move valuable items to a safe place above the flood waters. Leave large items of furniture where they are and concentrate on smaller portable items of sentimental value
  • place soft furnishings up high
  • move vehicles to higher ground.

Who to contact when you are flooded

There are several people or organisations you might need to contact if you're flooded.


Floodline can provide advice on practical steps and the risk of any further flooding. The phone line is open 24 hours a day on 0345 988 1188.

Your insurance company

For any type of flooding, if you have home buildings or contents insurance, you should phone your insurer’s emergency claims line. You should have a note of this number in your flood plan. You should get advice from your insurer before you attempt to clean up.

Read about making an insurance claim for flood damage for what you can expect from your insurer.

Scottish Water

In the case of sewage flooding, you should call Scottish Water to ask them to come and disinfect the property. You can call them on 08000 778 778 at any time of day.

For more information on Scottish Water’s clean-up process, see the Sewer Flooding Guide on Scottish Water's website.

Your landlord

If you live in rented accommodation, you should tell your landlord about the flood as soon as possible. You should ask them to organise for the property to be made safe and for repairs to be made. Landlords have a duty to ensure the property meets the tolerable standard as well as the repairing standard.

If you can't stay in the property, your landlord should organise alternative accommodation.

Read more about getting repairs done while renting.

Your local council

Your local council should be able to provide information on:

  • how emergency services are responding to the flood
  • any shelter or crisis help being provided for people who have been evacuated from their homes
  • any assistance with the clean-up process, for example the provision of skips.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau

For support and advice about flooding and sources of financial assistance and crisis help in your area, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Staying safe in flood waters

The most important thing during and after a flood is your own safety.

You should:

  • turn off the gas and electricity at the isolator switch or fuse box if possible
  • work with emergency services like the police and fire brigade to be safely escorted to and from your home
  • return to your home only when you've been told it's safe to do so.

You should not:

  • touch any electrical appliances or light switches
  • drive through flood waters or move 'Road Closed' signs, as this causes unnecessary risks for yourself and others. There might be unseen obstacles or dangers in the road. Cars float in flood waters and lose their steering
  • wade through flood waters. There might be hidden currents or obstacles.

Health precautions

Flood water from the sewerage system or rivers will be contaminated with bacteria and other pollutants, putting you at risk of becoming ill. Your home will need to be disinfected and cleaned.

Read more about going home after a flood.

If your garden was also flooded, avoid contact with plants and soil. Paving and other hard surfaces might need to be disinfected.

If you're older or disabled, you might be at greater risk of becoming unwell with bacterial infections or hypothermia. You should take special care to follow the tips below.

You should:

  • wear warm, dry, waterproof clothing and wellies
  • avoid coming into contact with flood water or contaminated belongings
  • keep cuts and grazes clean and covered with waterproof plasters
  • wash your hands with clean water and anti-bacterial soap
  • dispose of any food, including tins, that have come into contact with flood water
  • dispose of contaminated garden vegetables
  • contact your GP if you feel unwell.

You should not:

  • drink tap water. Drink and cook with bottled water until Scottish Water says that tap water is safe to drink.
  • allow children to play in flood waters.

Next steps

Read about going home after a flood and making an insurance claim for flood damage.

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