What you can do to prepare
Get suitable insurance
Having insurance protects the home you live in and the things that you care about most, as well as protecting you from extreme financial loss.
There are a variety of different types of insurance, and ensuring you have a suitable level of cover is also important. The Association of British Insurers provides advice on both home insurance and flooding insurance.
Create your own home emergency plan / flood plan
Having a plan that outlines what your household would to do in an emergency will help to prepare you for the real thing. The plan doesn’t need to be complicated, but it should be specific to you and where you live.
Spend a few minutes with your family discussing what should go in your emergency plan, listing all the possible dangers that could potentially happen, and what action you should take.
Ask some ‘what if?’ questions, such as:
- Are there are specific risks near our home?
- Where will we go/who can we stay with if we are evacuated?
- Do we have any neighbours that might need our help?
Include other useful pieces of information, such as:
- How to turn off the gas, electric and water at the mains.
- Identify the fastest escape routes in your home.
- The location of your first aid kit etc.
If your property is at risk of flooding, a specific emergency flood plan template can be downloaded where you can record key information you may need in a flood situation.
Make sure you regularly review and update your plan.
Emergency contacts list
If an emergency happens, certain groups of people will need contacting to aid your recovery.
Keep a list of the main contact and reference numbers of insurance companies, banks, vehicle registrations etc, as well as work, schools, close friends and family. Do you have alternative arrangements for your pets? Include this information too.
It is a good idea to have a paper copy of this information, as well as a digital copy on an accessible USB stick. Consider giving a copy of the list to a relative or friend in case your list is destroyed or inaccessible at your home.
Make sure you keep this information up to date.
Below are a few examples of contacts lists:
- British Red Cross - Home emergency contacts template
- Environment Agency - Emergency flood contacts template
Be prepared to leave
While an evacuation is considered last resort, they do happen. A gas leak, for example, might lead to the emergency services evacuating your street.
If the Emergency Services ask you to leave your home, leave as quickly and calmly as possible. We would recommend that you go to family or friends to wait until it is safe to re-enter your home. If it is not possible for you to go to friends or family, you will be directed to the Rest Centre that will be set up by the Council.
Vulnerable residents (the elderly, those with medical conditions etc) will be assisted if they are unable to make alternative arrangements. Telephone our 24 hour Emergency Control on 020 8871 6900 in the event of an emergency where you will require assistance evacuating.
It is worthwhile putting together a grab bag of all essential items you might need in a hurry, as you may be out for a long time.
Some items you may want to include are:
- A copy of your emergency plan
- A copy of your emergency contacts list (including insurance documents and important files)
- Essential keys, including your house or car keys
- Cash, bank cards, and other small valuable items which may be unsafe if left behind
- Mobile phone (with charger)
- Any prescription medication or medical aids you may need, including prescription details
- Glasses or contact lenses
- Bottled water
- Basic toiletries
You should identify two specific places away from your neighbourhood, such as the house of a friend or member of your family, to give an alternative meeting place if someone is away. Make sure each member of your family knows where to go if you are told to evacuate.
Keep enough food, bottled water and prescribed medicine at home to meet your household needs for at least three days.
Pets in an emergency
If evacuated, all rest centres in this area accept pets, but you will have to ensure your animals are in their carriers or on a lead at all times. You will also be responsible for their welfare and cleaning up after them. It is recommended that you get in contact with people outside your immediate area that could look after your pets. Animal boarding facilities may be required if the evacuation is for a long time.
Never leave your pets at home unless you absolutely have to. If you do, bring them indoors and shut them in an upstairs room with a week’s worth of food and water.
It is a legal requirement to microchip your dogs, but it is also beneficial for cats and rabbits. In an emergency, strange sights, sounds and smells can cause your pet to become disoriented and lost. A microchip is the single best way to ensure you are reunited.
You can also get a pet alert sticker to notify responders that there are pets in your property in case an evacuation is ordered when you are not home. These are available from a number of different retailers online.
Having all your pets essentials prepared will make the evacuation process much quicker. You may want to include the following items to have ready in a grab bag:
- A leash or carrier for every animal
- Any medication
- Pet food
- Vaccination cards/certificates
- Litter, paper towelling or bedding as required
You should always keep your pets vaccinations up to date.Not doing so expose them to all sorts of biological hazards, it means that the majority of animal boarding facilities won’t accept them.
Go in, stay in, tune in/stay informed
Sometimes it is safer to stay indoors than evacuate. You may be told by the emergency services to stay at home; if so, close doors and windows and listen to the television or local radio.
Arrangements have been made with local radio stations to interrupt programmes and issue an emergency warning to people in the event of an incident. Local radio stations will be used to keep you fully briefed on any emergency situation through regular bulletins on air.
Our useful links and information page lists details for local radio stations.