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Flooding advice

You may already know that you live or have a business in an area which has flooded before or is at risk of flooding.

If you want to know more about flooding risks in your area, look at the Rivers Agency Strategic Flood Map

Preparing for flooding

Here are some things you can do to prepare for flooding: 

  • Keep a few sandbags to block doorways.
  • Keep some short wooden boards to nail over airbricks.
  • Listen to local weather, news and travel bulletins on radio and TV. You can also check for warnings of severe weather on the Met Office website or register to receive alerts via email. 
  • Make sure you have adequate insurance and that you are covered for flood damage. If you own your own home you should have both buildings and contents insurance. If you live in public or private rented accommodation you should have contents insurance. Your landlord should have buildings insurance on the property.
  • Talk to your neighbours and consider having a community emergency plan for your area. Be neighbourly - there may be people near you who could use your help in a flooding emergency.
  • Consider the various ways flood water could enter your home and consider making changes to prevent this.

If you live near to Belfast Lough or the River Lagan remember that when it rains heavily and there is a high tide, this can increase the risk of flooding. You can see the tide levels by clicking on Bangor on the National Tidal and Sea Level Facility. When it rains heavily it can take some time for the water to run off and river levels may stay high even after the rain has stopped. 

What to do if there's a flood

If someone’s life is at risk due to flood water, always ring 999.

To report serious flooding in your area, call the Flooding Incident Line on 0300 2000 100. This line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.You don't need to know the cause of the flooding.

Follow these rules to ensure your safety during a flood:

Do:

  • Try to avoid coming into contact with flood water – it can be dangerous and may be contaminated.
  • Follow the advice of the emergency services, even if they ask you to leave your home for your own safety.
  • Stay away from flooded drains. Drains are especially dangerous as the power of the water entering them may suck you in.
  • Remember that flooding problems are worse at night when you can’t see.
  • Remember that the flow of the water may be so powerful that six inches of water could sweep you off your feet.
  • Consider whether any journey is really necessary. If you have to travel, don’t drive through flood water. Two feet of water can lift and float a car.
  • Put your mobile phone in a plastic bag to keep it dry and keep in touch with your friends, relatives and neighbours.
  • Keep yourself informed by listening to the local radio station. The local stations are all listed in your household emergency life-saving plan.

Don't:

  • Smoke or use a naked flame where there is a smell of petrol or oil from flood water.
  • Forget that cold water may quickly incapacitate you.
  • Never go into the water. It can contain hidden traps like missing manhole covers, sharp objects and fast moving objects. It is also impossible to know the depth of the water before you enter it. If you must go in the water then you should do so only with another person, in case you get into difficulties. Use a stick or pole to help to feel your way and gauge the depth of the water.
  • Let children or pets play in or near flood water or play with toys that have been in flood water until they have been cleaned with disinfectant.

Household flood plan

A household flood plan can help to reduce the impact of flooding: 

  • Make a household emergency life-saving plan with everyone in your house. This will make sure you know where to meet each other if you become separated and will help you to write down a list of important contact numbers and information in advance.
  • Plan who will turn off the gas if water enters your home. You should not touch any electrical fittings and do not need to turn off the mains water supply.
  • Make up an emergency kit and add extra things you will need in a flooding emergency like rubber gloves, waterproof clothing and boots.
  • Think about what belongings you can move now and what you would want to move during a flood. Make sure you move your treasured family possessions to safety before a flood. It’s also useful to plan in advance what other things you might like to move to safety such as cars, pets, furniture and items in your garden.

What to do after flooding

If your home or property has been damaged by flooding you should contact us on 028 9027 0428.

After a flood you can use this number during office hours and additional numbers will be publicised on this site and in the media.

Your Household Emergency Life-Saving Plan also has a list of important agencies you may need to contact. 

Cleaning up after a flood is heavy, manual work. You can get detailed advice on clearing up after a flood and making an insurance claim on the NI Direct website.

Even after the water has drained away there are a number of hazards which remain and you need to be aware of. To make sure you and your property are safe follow these safety dos and don'ts:

Do:

  • Check for structural damage to your property. If you think there is damage or danger seek advice from your insurance company or builder. Any structures which are damaged by flooding and are now dangerous should be reported to our Building Control section on 028 9027 0650.
  • Ventilate all areas thoroughly before you work in them. This is especially true of under floor areas and confined spaces. If there is a strong odour in these places seek advice from us before you enter. Call us on 028 9027 0428.

  • Watch out for any broken glass or nails while you're clearing up.
  • Use circuit breakers on electrical equipment until your house dries out, even when the electrics have been checked.
  • Contact us on 028 9027 0230 to arrange a free bulky waste collection to remove damaged materials such as furniture, carpets and appliances from your property.
  • Contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive directly on 03448 920901 if you are a NIHE tenant. They will help clean up NIHE properties and dry out and repair any flood damage.
  • Wash taps and let them run for a few minutes before use. Mains tap water should not be contaminated after flooding. Call Waterline on 08547 440 088 if you notice a change in water quality, such as a change of taste or smell or discoloured water.
  • Check your drains and sewers are clear before flushing toilets and running taps
  • If you discover any vermin or pests such as rats seeking refuge in a building, contact our Pest Control Service on 028 9027 0431.
  • If you notice mould growing on damp walls or require any other health advice, contact our Environmental Health department by phoning 028 9027 0428.
  • Make sure you hire a reputable builder if you need repairs carried out. Check out their identification, references and previous work. Get three quotes and double check them. Remember the cheapest quote is not always the best and don’t pay for the work before it has been done. For advice contact out Building control section on 028 9027 0650.

Don't:

  • Use your electricity mains until it has been checked by a qualified electrician.
  • Turn on gas or gas appliances until your system has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Go to the Gas Safe Register website for more information.
  • Use damp electrical equipment – get it checked by a professional.
  • Try to move heavy items such as fallen trees on your own. Remember that soft furnishings will be soaked and will be much heavier than normal. Used sandbags will be much heavier than when dry.
  • Let children or pets play on grass or paved areas which have been flooded until the areas have been cleaned. Remove any toilet waste from affected areas by shovelling it into black bags and sealing them. After the grass has grown and been cut once there should be no further risk as sunlight and soil will usually destroy harmful bacteria within a week.
  • Dispose of items until asked to do so by your insurer, broker or loss adjuster. Before removal, make sure you have photographed all the items.
  • Use petrol or diesel generators or pumps indoors. They can produce carbon monoxide which can kill.
  • Use barbecues or camping stoves inside.
Contact us
Emergency planning
028 9027 0428
Public Health and Housing
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BP