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

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.

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Cleaning and repairing your home/business

  • 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.

Personal hygiene 

  • 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.

Food hygiene

  • 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.

Cleaning your premises

  • 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.

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  • 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.

Report blocked gullies/drainage

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.

Bulk waste

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:

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Mental Health support

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 in Haringey website (external link) or contact your local GP.

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Page last updated:

September 22, 2022

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