Environment Agency Flood Warnings - What you need to know

Blog Post by Esther Morrissey 19 September 2016

The Environment Agency offer a free flood warning service which gives flood alerts for over 2500 river level monitors across England and Wales. Signing up for these flood warnings is a quick and simple way of increasing your flood resilience and giving yourself more time to prepare for a flood. However it is important that you understand what these warnings mean and most importantly what actions to take when you receive them.

Warnings can be received by text, phone and/or email and it is important that you make sure your contact details are kept up to date.

Top Tips

  • Multiple contact details increase your chance of receiving a warning even if your landline goes down or mobile runs out of battery.
  • Have a family member or friends contact details on the system as well for any vulnerable members of the community or in case you are on holiday when a warning is released.

There are 3 levels of warnings; Flood Alerts, Flood Warnings and Serve Flood Warnings.

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Issued as early as possible up to 36 hours in advance of expected flooding. It means that flooding is possible and you need to stay alert and vigilant, making early preparations for a potential flood. 

It is important not to panic at this stage as a flood alert does not mean that a flood is imminent

  • Monitor the situation through forecasts, local radio stations and monitoring stations.
  • Check your flood kit is complete and ready if needed.
  • Check your flood plan is filled in and you understand what to do if the situation gets worse.

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Issued around 3-6 hours in advance, however in an area prone to rapid flooding warnings may only be issued 1-2 hours in advance.  This means flooding is imminent and immediate action is required to protect yourself and your property.

  • Continue to monitor the situation
  • Move valuable/sentimental items, furniture or electrical items upstairs or to high shelves.
  • Hang curtains over rails and roll rugs up and move them upstairs.
  • Put important documents e.g passports in polythene bags.
  • Move family, vulnerable people and pets to safety.       
  • Move vehicles to safety on high ground out of the flood risk area.
  • Deploy flood defence measures.

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Likely to be issued when flooding has occurred to change the status of the flooding and are likely to cause significant risk to life and destruction of properties. You must prepare to evacuate and cooperate with the emergency services.

  • Turn off utility supplies
  • Get the flood kit before evacuating. 

How to sign up

To check your eligibility for the flood warnings service, sign up to receive warnings or update details, you can either visit https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings or call the Environment Agency on 0345 988 118.

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