During a flood | Oxfordshire County Council

During a flood

What to do in the event of a flood.

Flood in Witney

Only call for immediate assistance if there is a risk to life or a risk of serious property/environmental damage. During a storm the emergency services will be very busy.

Tune in to your local radio station or call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 to get the latest information. You can also report property flooding or river blockages to the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

In your home

  • Keep outside drains clear to let surface water escape.
  • If safe to do so, turn off gas, electricity and water supplies before flood water enters your home
  • If a flood is likely, put plugs in sinks and baths and weigh them down.
  • If your home has been flooded, you are advised to move your family and pets upstairs, or to a high place with a means of escape. Remember to take your emergency 'grab bag' with you (take a look at the Are you ready? guide for advice on what to put in it)
  • Always wash your hands after handling sandbags as they may be contaminated by the flood water. 
  • If you have a private water supply, be aware of changes to its appearance and taste. Heavy rain and flooding can effect the quality of private water supplies and damage equipment. Do not drink it or use it for food preparation unless it has been boiled.
  • Look after your neighbours. People have been known to suffer from hypothermia after their homes have become flooded with cold rainwater, even in the summer.
  • Do not touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water.
  • Do not enter your property at all If there is raw sewage in it. You should seek alternative accommodation until it has been cleaned.
  • Do not smoke, eat or drink whilst in contact with floodwater (always wash your hands in clean water before doing so).
  • Do not let your children play in flood water, as it can become contaminated with sewage and chemicals.
  • If you are using a petrol or diesel pump to remove water from your property make sure the generator is positioned outside - generators produce carbon monoxide fumes which can kill.
  • If you are using a fuel-powered pump within two metres of your property, make sure you keep doors and windows closed. Fit a carbon monoxide alarm to warn you if this lethal gas builds up to dangerous levels in your home.


  • Keep an eye on weather reports on local television or radio news channels.
  • Do not use towpaths
  • Do not attempt to walk through flooded areas. Even shallow water moving fast can sweep you off your feet. There may be hidden dangers such as open drains, damaged road surfaces, submerged debris or deep channels - these can cause serious injuries or even death.
  • Do not travel in heavy rain storms unless absolutely necessary.
  • Do not let your children play in flood water, as it can become contaminated with sewage and chemicals.


Eighty per cent of flood deaths occur in vehicles. Motorists should not attempt to drive through flooded roads or fords. The water is often deeper than it looks and may be moving quite fast. Your vehicle may be swept away or you may become stranded.

With water utility companies around the country advising that flood water may contain sewage, there is also the chance that driving through it you will spread this sewage onto your car and further into flooded streets.

You can report a flooded road online, or find more information on flooding of roads on the websites below.

District councils

Flooding information from the district councils can be found here:

Last reviewed
09 August 2017
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