Going home after a flood

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

If you have insurance, phone your insurer’s emergency helpline for advice before you go back into your home or start to clean up.

Read more about making an insurance claim for flood damage.

This page has information and advice for homeowners, including landlords, on the steps to take when going back into your home after a flood.

If you rent your home, you'll need permission from your landlord to do any repairs.

Going back into your home

You might only be allowed to go home once the emergency services say it's safe to do so. Don't put yourself or others at risk by going inside the property before it's made safe.

Don’t turn the electricity and gas back on until they've been checked by a qualified expert. If you smell gas or are worried about gas safety, you should phone the national gas emergency number on 0800 111 999.

Electrical and gas safety are very important after a flood as there's a risk of electrocution or a gas leak.

You should not go back into your home if the electricity has not been turned off at the fuse box. You should phone your electricity supplier’s emergency number as soon as possible to arrange a visit to check the fuse box and meter are safe. Read more information on the Electrical Safety First website.

If there's still water in your property, the fire service might be able to pump it out using high-volume pumps. However, the first priority for the fire service is responding to fires, and they will have to stop to respond if a fire happens. For contact details of your local fire brigade, check the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website.

You can also hire pumps yourself, but you might need a permit to pump water into rivers or sewers.

Older properties can become contaminated by dangerous pollutants when they're flooded. Even if you have an upstairs, the fire brigade might say it's not safe for you to continue to stay in the property.

If you can't safely stay in your home, you should discuss alternative accommodation with your insurance company. Read more about making an insurance claim for flood damage.

If you do not have insurance, you should contact your local council. Read more about what to do if you've been flooded but don't have insurance.

Securing your home

Your windows, doors and garden gates might have been damaged in the flood or if the emergency services needed to get access. One of the first things to do is to make sure your home is secure for your own safety and to prevent theft. This is particularly important if you want to stay in the property while it's being repaired.

If you have insurance, your policy should cover the repair of windows and doors. It might cover the costs of repairing gates in driveways or gardens. You might be able to install temporary measures until your insurance company organises permanent repairs.

You should take photos of the damage before you start any repairs and keep receipts for any building materials you buy, as your insurance company might refund you for these costs.

If you do not have insurance, a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund might cover the cost of making your home secure. Read more about what to do if you have been flooded but don't have insurance.

Cleaning up after a flood

Take photos of damage and check with your insurance company before you start the clean-up process.

Your insurance company will probably organise for specialist cleaners to clean the property and throw out contaminated items. Soft furnishings and other items that cannot be disinfected will be disposed of. You might want to oversee this process to make sure that salvageable items such as hardwood furniture are not disposed of.

If you're cleaning up yourself, for example because you do not have insurance, you can contact the Scottish Flood Forum helpline for advice on 01698 839021 or get more information on the Scottish Flood Forum website.

There's also a clean-up checklist on the Floodline website.

Your local council might provide skips or waste collection if several properties are affected.

Drying the property out

The property will need to be dried out to prevent damp and mould setting in. Your insurance company will probably organise dehumidifiers, but check to see if they will refund the electricity running costs. You should take an electricity meter reading before the dehumidifiers are run.

If you don't have insurance, it's possible to hire dehumidifiers privately, but this can be expensive. You might be able to get the costs of drying out and repairs from a crisis grant or a dedicated hardship fund.

Some types of cavity wall insulation retain water and do not drain or dry out. They must be removed, or they might cause permanent damp. The Scottish Flood Forum can advise you about this either over the phone or in a home visit.

Sewage flooding

If your home or garden has been flooded with sewage, they'll be contaminated with bacteria. Don’t handle any of your belongings without protective gloves and clothing. You should call Scottish Water to ask them to come and disinfect the property. You can call them on 08000 778 778 at any time of day.

For more information on Scottish Water’s clean-up process, see the Sewer Flooding Guide on the Scottish Water website.

There are also health precautions you should take when you've been flooded by sewage water. Read our advice on what to do when your home is flooded.

Next steps

Read about how to make an insurance claim for flood damage or what to do if you've been flooded but don't have insurance.