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How to prepare for flooding

This advice applies to Scotland

It's your responsibility to make sure you're prepared for flooding although there are organisations that can help.

Check your flooding risk

Not everyone has the same flood risk. There are areas of low, medium and high risk in Scotland.

It's important to monitor the flood risk for your home by checking:

  • flood risk mapssearch for your postcode on the SEPA website 
  • local information - check newspapers and ask neighbours about past flooding from rivers, underground culverts and natural flood plains

  • your council's flood risk management plan - it should be on their website

  • live flooding information - check the SEPA website or phone a Quick Dial code for your area

Flood maps don't give an accurate assessment of flood risk for individual homes and shouldn't be used by insurance companies to set your home insurance premiums or refuse to insure you. Read more about home insurance for flooding.

Get home insurance

The damage caused by flooding can be expensive to put right, whether you rent or own your home. Read our advice on getting the right home insurance that covers flooding and making an insurance claim for flooding

Sign-up up to Floodline for flood alerts and flood warnings

SEPA provides a free advanced-warning service called Floodline. You can choose to receive voice messages on your landline or texts on your mobile to tell you when the risk of flooding in your area is high.

Getting a message from Floodline doesn't mean you will definitely be flooded, but it gives you time to take practical steps to protect yourself and your home

Anyone can sign up to Floodline, but it's particularly important if you're in a medium or high flood risk area. 

Visit the SEPA website to find out more about the messages you'd receive and to sign-up, or call 0345 988 1188.

You can sign-up with multiple mobiles or landlines and a family member can also receive the messages on your behalf. Flood alerts and warnings may be issued at any time, 24 hours a day. Sign-up for text alerts if you don't want to receive phone calls during the night.

If you have difficulty signing-up to Floodline, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Prepare an emergency kit

Prepare an emergency kit in a sealed waterproof bag, and include:

  • a home inventory - make sure it's up-to-date and lists your fixtures, furnishings and valuable items
  • insurance documents - for your home, car and specific belongings 
  • passports 
  • a mobile phone - include a charger too
  • cash
  • medications
  • first aid kit
  • cereal bars 
  • bottled water
  • clothes - make sure they're warm and waterproof and include clothes for children
  • shoes - wellingtons or waterproof shoes, including shoes for children
  • pet food
  • food and nappies for children

Keep the kit upstairs or somewhere high and ensure all family members know where to find it.

There's more information about preparing an emergency kit on the Scottish Flood Forum website and on the Ready Scotland website.

Watch a video about making an emergency flood kit at vimeo.com.

Make a flood plan

A flood plan should be specific to your home and family. Include:

  • how to minimise flood damage in each room of your home
  • who will care for children - think about vulnerable relatives and pets too
  • where you'll go if flooding happens - especially if you live in a mobile home
  • where the main electricity and gas switches are - in a block of flats there may be a central point for all properties
  • where you get good mobile phone coveragecheck your coverage on OFCOM’s website
  • where to find a corded landline phone - so you can make phone calls even if the mains electricity is off
  • useful phone numbers - friends, family, insurance emergency helpline, local council, the Scottish Flood Forum (01698 839021) and Floodline (0345 988 1188)

There's a template flood plan on the Scottish Flood Forum website

Join a community flood group

There are 61 flood groups around Scotland. 

Check the Scottish Flood Forum website to find out if there's a flood resilience group in your area or call 01698 839021.

Extra steps if you're older or disabled

It's likely you should take extra steps if you're getting or entitled to Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Universal Credit, PIP or Attendance Allowance. 

You, or someone acting on your behalf, should:

  • contact your local flood group - let them know you might need extra help if flooding happens
  • ask to be added to Priority Services Registers - Scottish Water and some energy suppliers keep registers of vulnerable people who will get extra help in the event of a flood or powercuts
  • contact the council - the emergency planning or social work department of your council might keep a list of vulnerable people that you can ask to be added to

Consider installing flood defences

If you own your home, and live in a high-risk flood area, you may want to consider installing flood defences - these are physical changes you make or add to your home to reduce the likelihood of flooding and damage.

Before installing flood defence products, ask your insurer whether this will affect your insurance premiums. Installing these products when you're not considered to be in a high risk area may increase you premiums. See Insurance for flooding. You should also check whether you need planning permission or building warrants from your local authority. Read more about  planning permission and building warrants on the mygov.scot website.

If you're renting a property and want to have flood defence products installed, you should ask the landlord to pay for the installation. You could argue that flood defences would benefit the landlord by reducing the amount of money they would need to spend on repairs to meet the legal repairing standard if the property was flooded. You shouldn't install any flood defences without permission as it might be a breach of your lease. For more information on the repairing standard, see Getting repairs done while renting.

Flood defence products include:

  • air brick covers
  • door and gate barriers
  • sewage non-return valves
  • waterproof plasterboard

There's a PDF guide to flood protection on the Scottish Flood Forum website

There are advice sheets about improving the flood resistance of your home on the  Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) website.

Choosing flood defences

You should only install products that fit your home, your budget and provide the level of flood protection you need. Get advice about what you need before you speak to suppliers. 

Flood defence products are rarely completely water-tight and they might leak. Seals and mechanisms can degrade over time and you might need to replace them in the future. They may be under warranty but you should think about future costs before you have them installed.

You can ask the Scottish Flood Forum for a free survey to assess your needs. They can give installation advice and refer you to trusted suppliers. Fill out the contact form on the Scottish Flood Forum website to request a survey.

Check with your local authority to see whether they offer grants or loans to help with the cost or have a trusted trader scheme in place.

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