News story

Continued disruption from flooding and extreme weather

Communities across England remain at high risk from flooding and strong winds.


Flooding is affecting people’s properties, communities, transport, and infrastructure. Elsewhere, extensive clean-up work and damage limitation is underway. Public Health England (PHE) is providing information to local partners in areas affected by flooding, on the potential health impacts before, during and after a flood as well as advice and support on the response and recovery.

If a flood has been forecast for your area, pack a “flood kit” in case you need to leave your home. Remember:

  • phone numbers, insurance documents, bank cards and money
  • medicines and medical devices, hearing aid batteries, glasses and contact lenses
  • clothing, a toothbrush and personal items. If you have a baby, pack nappies, clothing and baby food

Professor Virginia Murray, head of Extreme Events and Health Protection for PHE, said:

If flooding has been forecast where you live; take action and listen to local radio or check the Environment Agency and Met Office websites for weather updates and news. Phone Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or 0845 988 1188 or your Local Authority if you have any questions.

If you have already been flooded, or live near a river in flood remember that accidents happen in fast flowing floodwater so avoid walking or driving anywhere near floodwater. Take care if you or your family must go into flood water as there could be hidden dangers like sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollution. In coastal areas and on paths near the sea keep well away from the edge as large waves and strong winds can easily sweep you off your feet. Water sports in swollen or fast flowing flooded rivers or in stormy sea conditions can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided.

If your home has been damaged by floodwater, consider staying with friends or family, or ask your local authority to help you find alternative accommodation. Only consider returning to your home when essential repairs and cleaning have been completed. Wash your hands regularly, if water is not available use hand sanitising gel or wet wipes.

It’s important when cleaning up after a flood to never use outdoor petrol or diesel generators indoors even in the event of a power cut. The exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide which can kill. Also, after being flooded, remember not to turn on gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified technician. Avoid eating food that has touched flood water or fresh food from the fridge or freezer if your electricity has been turned off. Clean all work surfaces before and after preparing food.

People may feel tired, distressed, anxious or have difficulty sleeping if they are affected by flooding. Contact friends and family for support as it can take a long time for life to return to normal. Getting in touch and staying together with families and friends can help promote recovery for people who are affected by flooding. If necessary call NHS 111 or visit your GP for medical advice.

Read PHE’s advice on the psychological impacts of flooding.

Read the guidance on how to clean up your home safely if you have been flooded

PHE has compiled guidance for frontline responders on clean-up and recovery.

See the advice leaflet on what to do before, during and after a flood, produced by PHE in collaboration with the Environment Agency.

Get answers to frequently asked health questions about flooding.

Published 13 February 2014
Last updated 19 February 2014 + show all updates
  1. Added link to the guidance on recovery from flooding for frontline responders.
  2. URL link to 'Floods – how to clean up your home safely FAQ' added.
  3. A link to PHE advice on mental health after flooding was added.
  4. First published.