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During the Floods advice

During the floods

Information on these pages is there to help residents during a flood and when evacuation might be necessary because of flooding.

Tune into local radio stations (BBC Hereford & Worcester 96,104, 104.4 and Free Radio 102.8), log on to the Worcestershire County Council website for the latest information or check the Council Council's Twitter account.

General Advice

  • Keep dry and out of flood water. Do not allow children to play around high water, drains or any flooded areas. Accidents happen in fast flowing floodwater. Avoid walking in or near floodwater or on river banks, sea defences or cross bridges over torrential rivers. Flooding presents a number of risks to health, drowning being the most obvious. Serious injury can be caused by falling into fast flowing water or from hidden dangers under the water, such as missing manhole covers
  • Stay in your property, if safe to do so or as advised by the emergency services
  • Do not drive through flood water, driving in floodwater significantly increases risk of drowning. Always obey 'road closed' signs. Flooding advice for road users from The Safer Roads Partnership
  • Move your family, pets and flood kit to a high place with means of escape. Stay safe, listen to the advice of the emergency services and evacuate when told to do so.
  • Don’t touch sources of electricity if you are standing in water
  • Ensure good ventilation if using portable indoor heating appliances. Do not use petrol or diesel generators or other similar fuel-driven equipment indoors: the exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide, which can kill.
  • Infections arising as a result of floodwaters in this country are rare as harmful microbes in floodwater usually become very diluted. There are, however, a number of precautions you can take. Avoid contact with floodwater and wash your hands regularly, particularly before handling food or attending to wounds . Swallowing floodwater or mud can cause diarrhoea, fever or abdominal pain. Mention the flood if you see your GP within 10 days for abdominal complaints.
  • Remember that flooding is stressful. It is normal to feel anxious or upset. Take care of yourself and your family and check on elderly and vulnerable friends and neighbours.


If an evacuation situation arises:

  • Try to stay calm and not panic;
  • Move people, pets, valuables and sentimental items upstairs or to a higher level;
  • Be aware that flooding may not have reached its peak, or may be predicted to return;
  • Respond to the instructions from the emergency services - they have your safety in mind;
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with water, it may be contaminated.

Food Safety Advice

Flood water can be contaminated with sewage, animal waste and other waste, from drains or the surrounding area, and so could be contaminated with harmful bacteria or chemicals. Although, the water is usually very diluted and so the risks of getting ill are low, follow simple hygiene practices to avoid getting ill from flood water.

If you have been affected by flooding, either because your home has been flooded, or your water supply has been cut off, read our tips on how to prepare food safely.

General Food Hygiene Tips

It's important to follow good food hygiene to stop harmful germs that might be present in flood water spreading to food. Here are some general tips on keeping food safe:

  • Don't eat any food that has been touched or covered by floodwater or sewage.
  • Always wash your hands before preparing food.
  • Clean and disinfect work surfaces, plates, pans, cutlery, chopping boards etc. before using them with food. If you have a working dishwasher, this is a more efficient way to clean and sanitise smaller items. Or use a suitable disinfectant.
  • Clean and disinfect the inside of your fridge and food cupboards, if they have been touched by floodwater.
  • Don't use work surfaces, plates etc. if they are badly chipped or damaged.
  • If tap water may be contaminated, boil and cool it before using it to wash food that won’t be cooked, such as fruit or salad.
  • If your power has been cut off and your fridge has not been working for a few hours, throw away the food inside. If your freezer has not been working, throw away any meat, fish or dairy products, or foods containing these, if they have started to get soft. Also throw away any food that you would eat frozen, for example ice cream.
  • Store opened food in a container with a lid.
  • If you have a catering business and have been affected by flooding, ask for advice from the environmental health service.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

For fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown either for sale or for your own consumption:

  • You should throw away any produce covered by flood water if it is ready to eat, and is grown above ground, such as lettuce or strawberries. It is fine to eat produce that is growing above the water and not contaminated with flood water e.g. fruit on trees.
  • It is OK to eat produce that has been cooked, even if it has been contaminated by flood water this is because cooking will kill any harmful germs that might be present.
  • You should wait at least six months after the area was flooded, before harvesting any new fruit or vegetables from that affected land. This is to make sure that any harmful germs that might be in the soil from the flood water will not survive and contaminate the produce. You do not need to wait before planting new crops if the fruit or vegetables will be cooked before being eaten.

If you need any more information, speak to the environmental health service.

Feeding Babies

If your drinking water supply is either interrupted or contaminated by the flooding and you need to prepare formula feed for a baby, it is important to be careful with the water you use. Here are some tips on preparing formula safely:

  • Ideally use water from a bowser (a water tank provided by water companies), or bottled water, brought to a 'rolling' boil and left covered to cool for no more than half an hour, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions on making up the feed. The use of unboiled bowser water should be avoided.
  • Use cooled boiled water or cooled boiled bottled water for cooling the feed once it has been made up.
  • Ready-to-feed liquid formula could be used instead.
  • If there is no electricity or gas to allow boiling and you don’t have ready-to-feed liquid formula available, bottled water (table, spring or mineral water) can be used without boiling to prepare baby feeds, but the prepared feed should then be used immediately.
  • Some bottled water labelled as 'natural mineral water' may have high levels of sodium or sulphate. When buying bottles of natural mineral water, look at the label and check that the figure for sodium (or 'Na') is not higher than 200mg a litre and sulphate (or ‘SO’ or ‘SO4’) is not higher than 250mg a litre. If it is, then try to use another water. If no other water is available, then use this water for as short a time as possible.

Public Health England have also put together a useful Frequently Asked Questions about flooding document (PDF 5.43 MB).

Further Information

In this section

More Information

See also in our website

External websites

  • National Flood Forum 
  • Worcestershire's Trader Register is a free online directory of home improvement trades people who have given their commitment to provide good workmanship.
  • Highways Agency
    The Highways Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport (DfT), and is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport.

We are not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more

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This page was last reviewed 19 August 2014 at 15:07.
The page is next due for review 15 February 2016.