What to do if your house gets flooded - insurance tips, safety and how to access financial support

Several flood warnings have been issued across England today (19 January) as Storm Christoph is forecast to bring more heavy downpours over the next few days.

The persistent rain is expected to cause significant accumulations in some parts of the country, which may lead to flooding.

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A number of flood warnings and alerts are currently in place across much of England, with areas in Yorkshire, the East Midlands and Leicestershire likely to be the worst affected.

If your home is affected by flooding, here’s how you can get help and financial support.

Contact your insurance company

In the event your home is flooded, you should contact your insurance company and follow their advice.

If you do not have insurance, the National Flood Forum can provide help and support on 01299 403055.

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Seek professional advice

The Environment Agency has specially trained Flood Support Officers across the country who provide information and advice during and after floods.

You can contact the 24-hour Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or type-talk (for the hard of hearing) on 0345 602 6340 to find out if they are active in your area.

Find your local flood action group

If there has been a serious flood, local authorities may have created a ‘flood hub’ in your area, such as the town hall, in which recovery efforts will be organised.

There may also be a flood warden or flood action group where you live. To find local support, contact the National Flood Forum for help.

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Apply for financial aid

If your home has been affected by flooding, you may be able to get financial aid for flood recovery.

To see if you are eligible, you can apply to your local council.

Check with emergency services

If flooding has forced you to leave your home, you should first check with the emergency services that it is safe before you return.

Your property may also require a safety inspection by the utility companies before it is safe to turn the water, gas and electricity back on.

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If you notice a change in the colour, taste or smell of your tap water, stop using it immediately and contact your water company.

You should also avoid eating food that has come into contact with flood water and if your electricity is off, do not eat fresh food from a fridge after four hours, or from a freezer after 24 hours.

Public Health England has some general advice about staying healthy after a flood online, and you can also seek support from your local health protection team to prevent and reduce the effect of diseases.

Take precautions when cleaning

Before starting the cleaning process and repairs to your property, you should seek advice from specialists as most of the work will need to be undertaken by professionals appointed by your insurers.

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Be sure to wear protective equipment, such as gloves and a face mask, when cleaning your home, and wash your hands thoroughly as flood water may contain harmful substances like sewage, chemicals and animal waste which could make you ill.

You should also take photographs before cleaning to document the damage and record the height of the flood water, and ask your insurer before discarding items that cannot be cleaned, such as mattresses and carpets.

Tips on cleaning your home safely after a flood can be found on the government website.

Your local authority will also be able to advise on how to dispose of damaged furniture and used sandbags, as well as collecting any large items.

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Future protection

To reduce flood damage to your home in the future, you can take measures such as moving electrical sockets higher up the walls, fit non-return valves, and lay tiles instead of carpets.

The National Flood Forum has some useful tips on protecting your property, and a list of suppliers of flood products and services can be found on the Bluepages.