How to prepare for flooding

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

It's your responsibility to make sure you're prepared for flooding, though there are organisations that can help.

Check your flood risk

Not everyone has the same flood risk. There are areas of low, medium and high risk in Scotland.

It's important to monitor the flood risk for your home by checking:

  • flood risk mapssearch for your postcode on the SEPA website

  • local information - check newspapers and ask neighbours about past flooding from rivers, underground culverts and natural flood plains

  • your council's flood risk management plan - it should be on their website

  • live flooding information - check the SEPA website or phone a Quick Dial code for your area.

Flood maps don't give an accurate assessment of flood risk for individual homes. Insurance companies shouldn't use flood maps to set your home insurance premiums or refuse to insure you.

Get home insurance

The damage caused by flooding can be expensive to put right, whether you rent or own your home.

Read more about home insurance for flooding and making an insurance claim for flood damage.

Sign up for flood alerts and warnings

SEPA provides a free warning service called Floodline. You can choose to get voice messages on your landline or texts on your mobile to tell you when the risk of flooding in your area is high.

Getting a message from Floodline doesn't mean you will definitely be flooded, but it gives you time to take practical steps to protect yourself and your home.

Anyone can sign up to Floodline, but it's particularly important if you're in a medium or high flood risk area.

Visit the SEPA website to find out more about the messages you'd get and to sign up or call 0345 988 1188.

You can sign up with multiple mobiles or landlines, and a family member can also get the messages on your behalf. Flood alerts and warnings can be issued at any time of day or night. Sign up for text alerts if you don't want to receive phone calls during the night.

If you have difficulty signing up to Floodline, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Prepare an emergency kit

Prepare an emergency kit in a sealed waterproof bag, and include:

  • a home inventory - make sure it's up-to-date and lists your fixtures, furnishings and valuable items

  • insurance documents - for your home, car and specific belongings

  • passports

  • a mobile phone - include a charger too

  • cash

  • medicine

  • a first aid kit

  • cereal bars

  • bottled water

  • clothes - make sure they're warm and waterproof and include clothes for children

  • shoes - wellies or waterproof shoes, including shoes for children

  • pet food

  • food and nappies for children.

Keep the kit upstairs or somewhere high, and make sure all family members know where to find it.

There's more information about preparing an emergency kit on the Scottish Flood Forum website and on the Ready Scotland website.

You can watch a video about making an emergency flood kit on

Make a flood plan

A flood plan should be specific to your home and family. Include:

  • how to minimise flood damage in each room of your home

  • who will look after children - think about vulnerable relatives and pets too

  • where you'll go if flooding happens - especially if you live in a mobile home

  • where the main electricity and gas switches are - in a block of flats there might be a central point for all properties

  • where you get good mobile phone coveragecheck your coverage on the OFCOM website

  • where to find a corded landline phone - so you can make phone calls even if the mains electricity is off

  • useful phone numbers - friends, family, insurance emergency helpline, local council, the Scottish Flood Forum (01698 839021) and Floodline (0345 988 1188).

There's a template flood plan on the Scottish Flood Forum website.

Join a community flood group

There are many community flood groups across Scotland.

Check the Scottish Flood Forum website to find out if there's a flood resilience group in your area or call 01698 839021.

Extra steps if you're older or disabled

It's likely you should take extra steps if you're getting or entitled to Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Universal Credit, PIP, Child Disability Payment, Adult Disability Payment or Attendance Allowance.

You, or someone acting on your behalf, should:

  • contact your local flood group - let them know you might need extra help if flooding happens

  • ask to be added to Priority Services Registers - Scottish Water and some energy suppliers keep registers of vulnerable people who will get extra help in the event of a flood or power cuts

  • contact the council - the emergency planning or social work department of your council might keep a list of vulnerable people that you can ask to be added to.

Consider installing flood defences

If you own your home and live in a high flood risk area, you might want to consider installing flood defences. These are physical changes you make or add to your home to reduce the likelihood of flooding and damage.

Flood defence products include:

  • air brick covers

  • door and gate barriers

  • sewage non-return valves

  • waterproof plasterboard.

Things to check before getting flood defences

Before installing flood defence products, ask your insurer if this will affect your insurance premiums. Installing these products when you're not in a high risk area might increase your premiums.

Read more about home insurance for flooding.

You should also check if you need planning permission or building warrants from your local council.

Read more about planning permission and building warrants on

If you're renting a property and want to have flood defence products installed, you should ask the landlord to pay for the installation. You could argue that flood defences would benefit the landlord by reducing the amount of money they would need to spend on repairs to meet the legal repairing standard if the property were flooded.

You shouldn't install any flood defences without permission as it might be a breach of your lease.

For more information on the repairing standard, read about getting repairs done while renting.

Choosing flood defences

You should only install products that fit your home and your budget and provide the level of flood protection you need. Get advice about what you need before you speak to suppliers.

Flood defence products are rarely completely watertight and might leak. Seals and mechanisms can degrade over time and you might need to replace them in the future. They might be under warranty but you should think about future costs before you have them installed.

You can ask the Scottish Flood Forum for a free survey to assess your needs. They can give installation advice and refer you to trusted suppliers. Fill in the contact form on the Scottish Flood Forum website to request a survey.

Check with your local council to see if they offer grants or loans to help with the cost or have a trusted trader scheme in place.

There's a guide to flood protection on the Scottish Flood Forum website.

There are advice sheets about improving the flood resistance of your home on the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) website.