Did you know that two feet of water can move a car? Even more shockingly, just six inches of flowing water can knock an adult right off their feet.

Although many people go their entire lives without experiencing a flood, would you know what to do if the worst did happen? If not, then you need to keep reading.

Within the below guide, you will discover exactly what you need to do to keep yourself and your family safe in the event of a flood. In addition, you’ll find out how to recover from this devastating event more quickly and with less stress.

Step 1: Prepare

If flood alerts are issued in your area, you need to start preparing for a flood as quickly as possible. Flood alerts are designed to prepare people for a flood; they tell the public that a flood is imminent and they need to act now (unlike flood warnings, which are merely warnings informing people that a flood could happen). You can sign up for flood alerts via Floodline Warnings Direct, which offers a 24-hour service via phone, text or email.

There are several steps that you can take to prepare for a flood, such as packing a bag with essential items like insurance documents, house deeds, passports and any medication you or your family need. You should also ensure that you know how to turn off your gas, electricity and water supply. Additionally, it’s wise to invest in property protection products, such as flood barriers and air brick covers.

Finally, it can be a good idea to plan how you will evacuate your family and any pets you have if a flood does hit. If you’re unsure where to start with this, you can find flood evacuation plans and templates online.

Other preparations you may want to make include:

  • Checking your home and contents insurance policies to confirm they cover flooding
  • Gather warm blankets and waterproof clothing
  • Pack a bag with bottled water and non-perishable foods

Step 2: Act

As mentioned above, if flood warnings are issued in your area, you need to act fast, as this means that flooding is expected. There are several actions that you should take when a flood is on its way, such as moving any vehicles to higher ground and moving your family and pets to somewhere safe.

You may also want to move any valuable items in your home upstairs or to a safer place on your property. Although, remember, your family’s safety should always come first over belongings. Also, as mentioned, make sure you turn off the gas, electricity and water mains before you evacuate your home – but never touch an electrical switch if you are standing in water.

If you get a severe flood warning, this means there is a danger to life, and you need to take more drastic action. Call 999 if you are in immediate danger and follow advice from the emergency services.

Step 3: Stay safe

There are many actions that you can take to keep yourself and your family safe in the event of a flood. Make sure that you are ready to act quickly and that you carry out your evacuation plan as soon as you are told it’s time to leave your home.

If you have not yet been told to evacuate, then there are still things that you can do to protect your family and your home. Start by plugging in all the sinks and baths, as this can help stop water from entering your home. It can also help to weigh them down with a sandbag or plastic bag filled with soil from the garden.

If you don’t have non-return valves fitted in your home, then you can plug water inlet pipes with old towels or cloths. You should also disconnect any household appliances that use water, such as the washing machine and the dishwasher.

When advised to evacuate by the emergency services, don’t be tempted to stay in your home, as this can put yourself and your family at risk. Once evacuated, you will most likely be taken to an evacuation centre, where you’ll be offered support and advice as well as shelter. You can also take your pets to these centres.

Step 4: Recover

Recovering from a flood can be challenging for many, especially if a lot of damage has been caused to your home. Fortunately, in almost all cases, your insurance company will be able to help you with any repairs and replacements that you need – as long as your policy includes flood protection (it’s always important to check this when buying property insurance coverage).

When you first return to your home after a flood, you need to be highly vigilant as there may still be some hazards lurking in your property. Look out for any sharp objects that may be hidden in the water or pollution that could cause an infection. If you rent your home rather than own it, you need to contact your landlord as soon as possible, as well as your contents insurance provider.

After you have assessed the damage, you may find you need to hire flood restoration equipment to dry out your home – these usually come in the form of portable dehumidifiers, building dryers, and carpet blowers. Again, if you have home insurance, the cost of renting these might be covered for you. If you don’t have insurance, it can be a good idea to contact your local council to see what help they can offer you. In some cases, a local charity may also be able to help.

During the recovery period, you may also want to think about how you can protect your home from future flooding events, such as

  • Use rugs instead of carpets
  • Lay ceramic tiles on the ground floor
  • Raise the height of electrical sockets
  • Use lime plaster instead of gypsum on the walls
  • Fit non-return valves on all drains and inlet pipes
  • Replace wooden window and door frames with synthetic ones

Although it can seem impossible to recover from a flood, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Make sure that you accept any offers of help from others within your community as well as any government schemes that are put in place to help victims of flooding.