Dealing with flooding

Information about contingency planning and dealing with flooding when it occurs.

Emergency contact information

  • Met Office – 0370 900 0100
  • Thames Water – 0800 316 9800
  • The Council’s Streetline – 020 7361 3001

Further information and advice is available on the Environment Agency's website.

The Council is working in partnership with Thames Water to reduce the risk of flooding. Find out about Flood Risk Management in the Royal Borough.

How to prepare and deal with flooding

You can download the Environment Agency's 'What to do before, during and after a flood' leaflet and for tips on dealing with the aftermath of a flood. See our After a flood webpage.

The Thames presents little or no risk to the homes and businesses in the borough. If you are worried about the risk of being flooded by the Thames you should contact the Environment Agency on tel: 0345 988 1188, or visit the Environment Agency website.

Some areas of the borough may be at risk of flooding due to torrential rain. Severe weather warnings are issued by the Meteorological Office and publicised on the website as well as via local TV and radio. You can call the Met Office on 0370 900 0100.

Prevent flood water getting into your home

  • put sandbags, flood boards or any other flood defence equipment you may have in place as soon as possible - making sure your property is properly ventilated
  • you can use silicone sealant on doors and windows - smear a layer around the frame, then shut and lock them
  • visit the environment agency website for further advice about preparing for flooding and finding out if you are at risk of flooding

Protect your property

  • move as much furniture and as many electrical items as you can upstairs (or raise larger appliances such as fridges and freezers up on bricks or blocks)
  • move furniture away from walls - this helps when drying your property later
  • roll up carpets and rugs and put them upstairs
  • remove curtains or hang them up over the rail so they are kept above flood water
  • leave internal doors open, or ideally, remove them and store them upstairs
  • put any sentimental or irreplaceable items upstairs
  • keep important personal documents in a sealed bag, and in a location safe from floodwater
  • it is particularly important to keep your insurance documents safe and in a place where they can be easily located

Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies

  • turn off gas, electricity and water at the mains (make sure you are aware of where the switches are in advance of any emergency situation)
  • unplug all electrical items and store them upstairs, or if you do not have an upstairs then place them as high up on shelves or cupboards as possible
  • plug sinks and baths and weigh the plug down - put a sandbag in the toilet bowl to prevent backflow

Protect property outside your home

  • move dustbins, garden chemicals, gas cylinders, or anything else not fixed down, to a safer location
  • move your car, motorbike, or any other vehicle to higher ground to avoid risk of damage
  • weigh down manhole covers outside your home to prevent them floating away and leaving a hazardous hole

Prepare your business

It is recommended that you prepare a flood plan for you business, preferably in writing. The flood plan will spell out how you will respond to a flood and will contain a number of steps you will take to reduce the risk of flood damage. The written plan should include:

  • a list of important contacts, including the Met Office (0370 900 0100), the Council’s environmental healthline (020 7361 3002), builders, suppliers (and alternate suppliers if there is a risk your usual suppliers may be affected), insurance company and emergency contacts for staff
  • a description and map showing where key property, protective materials and utility shut-off points are located
  • basic information to help protect property, including guidance given above, and other information to help prevent business disruption and helping to get back to normal business as quickly as possible

Practical help available from the Council

  • The Council does not provide sandbags. Please search for any local traders via the internet.
  • You can contact Streetline to request rain gullies to be unblocked. You can also call to book a free collection for household bulky items such as your sofa, table, etc. Please make sure that you have claimed insurance before the items are collected by the Council. Once the items are collected and disposed of there will not be any provision to search and return the items.
  • all food, including canned goods, that comes into contact with flood water should be thrown away (if you are running a business that deals with food then contact the Council’s food hygiene and standards team via the environmental health line on 020 7361 3002 for expert advice on food safety)
  • please note the Council has neither the responsibility nor the equipment to pump out floodwater from flooded properties - flooding from excessive rainfall and run-off from the road is the responsibility of Thames Water, you can ring their flooding customer centre on 0800 316 9800
  • in extreme circumstances the Council may set up a local rest centre for people evacuated from their homes - these are usually set up in community centres or other Council buildings and provide very basic shelter

Never attempt to tackle a flood directly – they can be very dangerous and you will be putting yourself at risk. You should leave it to the professional emergency services, and cooperate with them as much as possible.

Listen to the local news and to the emergency services who will advise if evacuation is necessary.

Do not walk, swim or drive in flood water. Floods can be fatal - six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over and two feet of water will float your car. Manhole covers may have come off as well as other hazards you can’t see.

For practical information on dealing with the aftermath of a flood, see our After a flood webpage.

Last updated: 20 July 2021