Flooding Preparation Advice

Preparing for Flooding

If your home or business is at risk of flooding, you should make sure you have your own personal flood plan. The Environment Agency has a guide to help with preparing a personal flood plan.
Plan how you can stop flood water entering your property. Research different products on the National Flood Forum's Blue Pages. Don't just rely on sandbags as they aren't always available, or the most effective method.

Flood Warnings

Sign up and familiarise yourself with flood warning levels, so that you understand an event as it is unfolding. Sign up here to flood warnings. Sign up to Met Office Weather Warnings
Check your flood risk on the Gov.uk website - check if you're at risk of flooding.
Check the Flood warnings summary (Environment Agency website), which is updated regularly.
The differences between flood warnings and flood alerts is explained on Flood warning codes explained (Gov.uk website)


If your home is particularly at risk of flooding, it can be difficult to insure. The National Flood Forum can help you get insurance and reduce your premium or excess. The British Insurance Brokers' Association can help you find a broker that specialises in properties that are difficult to insure.
Your insurer may ask for an Insurance Related Request Letter, which you can get from the Environment Agency. Your insurance company will use this letter when deciding whether to insure your property and how much it will cost. This takes into account the likelihood of your property flooding, including the impact of any current or planned local flood defences.


You can typically get 3 types of sandbag from suppliers, made for various applications. Your local builder's merchant should be able to supply you with the materials required and all sandbags should be filled with sharp sand.
  • Hessian bags - are usually brown and can rot relatively quickly. They are usually sufficient for the duration of a flood event but are unlikely to last once they have been wet. They should be stored dry and empty for best results.
  • Treated Hessian bags - are usually green and will rot down at a slower rate than the untreated bags. Again, they are unlikely to be able to be used more than once unless in quick succession and should be stored dry and empty.
  • Polypropylene bags - usually white and less susceptible to the rot experienced with hessian bags. They have the ability to be used more than once however, they are affected by sunlight which can degrade them. Polypropylene bags can be stored ready filled as long as they are covered or kept away from sunlight.

Personal property protection measures

Various types of property protection are available, from artificial dams to boards for blocking doorways. A resident is allowed to protect their home and outbuildings from flood but not necessarily the land they own.
Please be advised that, due to the associated problems, protection of land is not permitted without express written consent from Surrey Heath Borough Council and Surrey County Council. All overland flood routes need to be maintained and failure to notify of any major changes to land may result in the flooding of neighbouring properties for which the landowner could be held liable. Be careful that the work you do to protect your property does not compromise any other properties.
It is the choice of the residents to decide which products are the best to protect their home but, in all cases, it is advisable to look for the official British Standard kite marked products which have met the standards of the industry.
For further information on flood protection products the National Flood Forum offers a useful guide of products and advice on their website.

Key Contacts 

Environment Agency 

  • To Report a flood
  • Floodline: Check the current alert and warning status, and sign up for future automated notifications
  • Deployment of temporary defences and other strategic assets
  • Maintenance of structures on main rivers
Switchboard: 03708 506 506
EA Incident Line: 0800 80 70 60
Floodline: 0345 988 1188

Surrey County Council 

  • Lead Flood Authority, 
  • Surface water and 
  • Ground water flooding management, 
  • Highways management, 
  • Social care and health information
Switchboard: 0300 200 1003
Flooded Highways: 0300 200 1003- Drainage and flooding (SCC website)
Locality Team (social care): 01932 794800
Out of hours: 01483 517898
Report an issue using “Report it” on the Surrey County Council website (General enquiries about flooding: flooding.enquiries@surreycc.gov.uk)
For information on the Fair processing notice for supporting vulnerable people in an emergency please click here

Surrey Heath Borough Council

  • Immediate Sandbags Requests
  • In need of Welfare support. 
Surrey Heath switchboard (including out of hours service) 01276 707100.

Thames Water 

Sewage, flooded sewers and sewer cleaning
0800 316 9800

Power cuts

For information in the event of a power cut see UK Power Network's website or dial 105 for free to get directly through to your local network.

Do’s and Don’ts During and After Flooding 


  • keep together and safe with your family and those around you. Consider any vulnerable or elderly neighbours and make sure they are aware of the situation
  • have an emergency 'grab bag' prepared
  • Take all warnings seriously, stay alert, and monitor the ongoing situation
  • switch off all electrical and gas appliances at the mains - make sure you know how to do this quickly
  • Block downstairs toilets and drains to prevent back flow of sewage - use a sandbag or a strong bin bag filled with soil.
  • Move important items to a high and safe place within the home
  • Staying safe on the road (AA website) - has advice on driving in in heavy rain, floods and standing water.
  • Try to detail how the flood happened. Flood water can rise and recede very quickly so a timeline of events, and photos of the flooding, can help insurers to understand and validate any claim.


  • Don’t enter flood water. Only six inches of fast flowing water can knock a person over and there may be unseen hazards – uncovered manholes, sharp edges and unstable surfaces may be hidden beneath the surface.
  • Don’t drive through flood water. Less than two feet of water can be enough to float a car and beneath the water may be hidden hazards such as sudden drops, debris and fallen power lines.
  • Don’t come into contact with flood water – it is often contaminated with sewage and other substances. Wear rubber gloves and boots, and wash thoroughly if you do accidentally come into contact with flood water.
  • Don’t ever attempt to swim through flood water. You may be swept away and being a strong swimmer will not protect you from being struck by flowing debris.
  • Don’t re-enter a flooded area until you are advised it is safe to do so.
  • Don’t enter a property that has been flooded unless you are sure it is structurally safe – if in doubt it should be checked professionally.
  • Don’t turn on your electricity or gas supplies until they have been checked by a qualified electrician/engineer. Be aware of gas leaks – do not smoke or use open flames.

After a Flood


  • make sure the property is safe before you enter
  • switch off the electricity supply at the fuse box, if it is safe to do so. If there is evidence of water inside the fuse box or if there are signs of arcing or overheating, seek professional advice
  • unplug damaged electrical appliances and move all portable ones away from the area affected by flooding
  • arrange for other services, such as gas, to be switched off. Don't turn on gas or electricity supplies without checks being undertaken by a competent person. Ask your insurer for advice about re-commissioning supplies and checking any appliances which may have been affected.
  • Remember to take care of your own wellbeing and don't try to tackle everything at once. Flooding health guidance and advice for the public (Public Health England website) - helps with preventing and recovering from flood. Includes advice on:
    • contaminated flood water
    • the danger posed by carbon monoxide fumes from the indoor use of generators to dry out buildings
    • mental health following flooding
    • mould and health.
  • Follow this guidance on cleaning up after a flood and remember to protect yourself and your family. 
  • Discard any food that has been in contact with flood water. 
  • Contact your insurer and retain damaged goods You may need evidence of the items damaged by the flood. Try to store all items for possible inspection by your insurers, prior to disposal.


  • use candles to guide you when entering the property
  • assume the electricity in a flooded property is off
  • touch any electrical appliances, cable or equipment if you are standing in flood water or if they are sitting in water
  • use any mains powered electrical appliances in areas affected by flooding until advised by a registered electrician that it is safe to do so
  • go near any exposed wiring. It may still be live
  • start to clean up or carry out repairs until you are sure it is safe to do so

Other useful links