What to do after a flood
Firstly, it is important to find out if it is safe to return to your home.
Extensive flooding may have caused structural damage to your property.
- Contact your insurance company
- Cleaning and repairing your home/business
- Mental health support
Call your contents and building insurance providers (and/or your landlord if you rent) as soon as possible so they can start assessing your claim. Follow their advice.
Further advice can be found below:
- Take photos of everything that is damaged. Include a photo of the tide mark on the wall.
- Do not throw everything in a bin – check with your insurance company and follow their advice.
- Note down your meter reading number so you can claim for the coverage of the costs of the electricity usage to repair your home to your insurance.
- Do not turn on your utilities until they have been checked.
- Take advice from specialists before starting repairs to your property.
- Most of the repair work after flooding will need to be undertaken by professionals appointed by your insurers.
- Flood water may contain harmful substances like sewage, chemicals and animal waste which could make you unwell. If you come into contact with flood water, wash your hands thoroughly.
- Wash your hands regularly with clean water and soap. If there is no clean water, use wet wipes or hand sanitising gel.
- Avoid contact with any remaining flood water or items having had contact with flood water unless wearing protective gloves/clothing.
- Wash yours and your children’s hands frequently with bottled water if your water supply has not been declared fit for use.
- Seek medical assistance if you experience any health issues, including fever or gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Clean work surfaces before and after preparing food.
- Do not eat food that has been contaminated with flood water - this includes tinned and packaged food.
- Do not eat fresh food from the fridge or freezer if your electricity has been turned off for more than 4 hours.
- Take photographs before you start cleaning and ask your insurer before discarding items that cannot be cleaned (such as mattresses and carpets).
- Wear rubber boots and gloves to clean up and be sure to wash hands afterwards.
- Clean all hard surfaces (walls and floors) with hot water and detergent.
- Hard surfaces contaminated by sewage need to be cleaned and disinfected.
- Wash clothes used for cleaning separately from your other clothes. Wash soft items (such as clothing, bedding, and children’s toys) on a 60°C cycle with detergent.
- Place rubbish in hard bins or in rubbish bags. Dispose of dead rodents and pests in a plastic bag, wearing rubber gloves.
- Heating, dehumidifiers, and good ventilation can help dry out your home. Mould will stop growing as your home dries out but if it persists, contact a specialist cleaner.
- Water supply
- If you have sewage in your property or garden, do not forget to notify it to your water company.
- To report changes in water quality or a disruption to your water supply please contact Thames Water on 0845 920 0800.
- Boil all tap water until it is declared safe by the water supply company.
- Electrical hazards
- Do not turn on electrics if they got wet during the flood.
- Only turn them on when they have been checked by a qualified electrician.
- To report an electrical hazard or power cut or to request an electrician please contact your electricity supplier.
- On returning to your home after a flood, all equipment, particularly kitchen equipment should be thoroughly washed and disinfected, where possible using a dishwasher on a high setting.
- For items that cannot go in a dishwasher, such as plastics, it may be possible to use diluted bleach to kill germs.
- All other items should be wiped or cleaned thoroughly.
- Please read the label on disinfectant/bleach containers to ensure it is suitable for use.
- Gas supply
- Do not turn on the gas if appliances got wet during the flood.
- Only turn the gas on when it has been checked by a qualified technician.
- To report a gas leak or issue with supply or to request a technician please contact your gas supplier.
Sewer issue, please report to Thames Water on 0845 920 0800 or visit the Thames Water website (external link).
To report a blocked roadside gully please download the “love clean Streets” app if you have a smart phone or alternatively visit the love clean streets website (external link).
Please find further information on our blocked gullies/drains page.
The council can organise bulky waste collection for large items damaged by flood water.
- Please do not throw rubbish and furniture outdoors, wait for an organised collection or book an appointment to the recycling centre.
- Once a sandbag has been used it cannot be re-used due to the potential harm that could be caused from contaminated water.
- Sandbags are classified as building material and the council will therefore not collect old/used sandbags.
You can take old/used sandbags to the reuse and recycling centre:
Feeling tired, anxious, and having difficulty sleeping is normal after you have been flooded.
- Please contact friends and family for support during this time.
- If you require further support, additional resources can be found on the MIND website (external link) or contact your local GP.
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