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Practical steps and staying safe when you are flooded

This advice applies to Scotland

Flooding is a stressful and difficult event. It is easy for usually capable people to panic and may not know how to proceed. 

Pay attention to flood warnings and seek further advice

If you receive 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.

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, see Tips for flood preparation.

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

Initial practical steps

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

  • activate any home flood defences you have
  • turn off gas and electricity at the isolator switch or fuse box, if they have not been affected by the flood water
  • find warm clothes and wellingtons
  • move valuable items to a place of safety above the flood waters. Leave large items of furniture where they are, as these can be replaced, 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

Floodline 

Floodline will be able to 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 in your flood plan. You should seek advice from your insurer before you attempt to clean-up.

See Making an insurance claim for flood damage for what you can expect from your insurer.

Sewage flooding: contact Scottish Water

You should call Scottish Water to request that they come and disinfect the property. You can call them on 0800 0778778 at any time of day.

For more information on Scottish water’s clean-up process, see Scottish Water’s Sewer Flooding Guide at www.scottishwater.co.uk.

Your landlord

If you live in rented accommodation you should inform your landlord of 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’re not able to stay in the property, your landlord should organise for alternative accommodation. 

For more information, see Getting repairs done while renting

Your local authority

Your local authority 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 e.g. 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.

What to do:

  • turn off gas and electricity at the isolator switch or fuse box if possible and do not touch any electrical appliances or light switches
  • work with emergency services like the police and fire brigade to be safely escorted to and from your home
  • return to your home when you have been told it is safe to do so

What not to do:

  • drive through flood waters or move 'road closed' signs, as this causes unnecessary risks for yourself and others. There may be unseen obstacles or dangers in the road. Cars will float in flood waters and steering will be lost
  • wade through flood waters. There may 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. See re-entering your home and cleaning up after a flood.

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

If you are older or have a disability you may be at greater risk of becoming unwell with bacterial infections or hypothermia. You should take special care to follow the tips below.

What to do:

  • wear warm, dry, water-proof clothing and wellingtons
  • avoid coming into contact with flood water or contaminated belongings
  • keep cuts and grazes clean and covered with water-proof plasters
  • don’t assume tap water is safe to drink. Drink and cook with bottled water until Scottish Water says that tap water is safe
  • wash your hands with clean water and anti-bacterial soap
  • dispose of any food, including tins, that have come into contact with flood water
  • do not allow children to play in flood waters
  • dispose of contaminated garden vegetables
  • contact your GP if you feel unwell

Next steps

See Re-entering your home and cleaning-up after a flood and Making an insurance claim for flood damage

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