What to do if a flood happens

To report flooding, telephone 0300 2000 100. This number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You might be eligible for an emergency payment from the local council if heavy rainfall caused flooding in your home.

If there is a heavy rain warning

If heavy rain is forecast in your area, you can expect flooding of low lying land and roads. You should check local news, weather forecasts and be aware of water levels in water courses near you.

Be prepared to follow any plans you have made to deal with flooding in your area such as:

  • moving cars, pets, food, valuables and important documents to safety
  • putting flood protection equipment in place
  • turning off gas, electricity and water supplies if it’s safe to do so
  • evacuating your home

To stop water entering your home:

  • use sandbags and floodboards to prevent water entering through doors and windows
  • seal airbricks with plastic covers,cloths or towels
  • put plugs in sinks and baths and weighing them down with a sandbag, pillowcase or a plastic bag filled with garden soil, or a heavy object
  • block toilets with towels or bed sheets and weigh down lids

If you don’t have valves fitted which allow flow of water in one direction (non-return valves) you should:

  • plug water inlet pipes with towels or cloths
  • turn off any equipment that uses water (like washing machines and dishwashers)
  • collect the things you need for evacuation
  • stay in a high place with a means of escape
  • avoid electricity sources
  • avoid walking or driving through flood water
  • call 999 immediately if you are in danger
  • Household flood plan


If the emergency services tell you to evacuate your home, you should leave. Refusing to leave on their advice puts you, your family and people trying to help you at risk.

When flooding becomes less, you should:

  • listen to weather reports and only return to evacuated buildings if you are told it's safe
  • beware of sharp objects and pollution in flood water
  • contact your insurance company immediately and ask their advice before starting to clean up if your property or belongings are damaged

The insurance company might give advice about replacing or clearing away damaged items.

Health precautions around flooding

Flooding can contain pollutants which can affect your health and well being. There are also risks such as missing manhole covers on roads and pavements and people falling into fast flowing water. Don't eat any food that was in flood water.

If there was a flood in your home, you should:

  • wash your hands after contact with flood water, sewage or anything these have contaminated
  • cover cuts or open sores
  • wash children's hands regularly
  • keep children and pets out of contaminated areas
  • use rubber gloves when cleaning up
  • use disinfectant to clean surfaces and tables where you want to put food
  • contact your GP is you or a relative has a stomach upset after flooding
  • decontaminate footwear by washing and treating with a mild disinfectant
  • clean toys with disinfectant 

Contamination caused by sewage in flood water

Where sewage is clearly visible in flood waters, or in material deposited by flood waters, decontamination should involve:

  • removing excess liquid (pumping/sweeping)
  • a thorough clean up to remove any debris or faecal contamination
  • leaving the contaminated areas to dry
  • applying a mild disinfectant

Disinfectants should remove all traces of bacteria within 24 to 48 hours.


If any electrical wiring has come into contact with flood water, a qualified electrician will need to check the safety of the system, and the safety of appliances.

Householders can contact Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE)  24 hours a day for advice :


Contact your home insurance company as soon as possible. They may offer advice about replacement or cleansing damaged items.

External flooding

If there was flooding to gardens, paved areas and other external areas:

  • you can clean and disinfect patios and driveways  but keep off these areas for three hours after disinfection
  • it is not usual to disinfect cultivated areas as this can kill plants, if you do, use a very mild disinfectant 
  • don't hose the garden as this will saturate the ground and prolong the life of the bacteria
  • do not dig or rake the affected area as this will spread contamination further into the soil where lack of light will prolong the life of bacteria
  • it is best to let nature take its course as ultra violet radiation in sunlight is very effective in killing bacteria

Compensation claims

For compensation claims about water or sewerage, ask NI Water for a claim form:

Emergency financial payments

If your home is flooded due to heavy rainfall, you can contact the local council and ask about  their emergency payments scheme.

A householder could receive £1, 000.  The payment is to make a home fit to live in as quickly as possible. It is not compensation.

Inspecting your property

The council will inspect your property. If your claim is eligible, you will receive your payment within days.

Rating exclusions on flooded homes 

If your home was affected by flooding, you might be eligible for exclusion from rates. 

Help from the council after flooding

If your home was flooded, the council can give you practical help and guidance, including:

  • collection, retention and disposal of damaged household contents
  • help with arrangements to clean up your home and garden

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