General advice to homeowners and tenants after flooding

When can I go home after my property has been flooded?

If you had to leave your home during flooding only return if the emergency services say it's safe to do so. Don't put yourself or others at risk by going inside the property before it's made safe.
We recommend that you only return to live in your home once cleaning has been completed. Additional work may also need to be carried out, your insurance company, housing officer, landlord, builder will advise you of this. If you decide to return to your home before cleaning is complete you should:

  • contact your local water company if you notice a change in drinking water quality, such as a change in the colour, taste or smell of your tap water

  • try to have some heating on at all times, consider the use of a dehumidifier

  • make sure the property is well ventilated - leave windows open as much as possible

  • make sure that if you have air bricks to any under floor spaces that these are unblocked to give cross ventilation to these areas.

What safety checks should I make after my property has been flooded?

  • Don’t turn the electricity and gas back on until they've been checked by a qualified expert.
  • If you smell gas or are worried about gas safety, you should phone the national gas emergency number on 0800 111 999.
  • You should not go back into your home if the electricity has not been turned off at the fuse box. You should phone your electricity supplier’s emergency number as soon as possible to arrange a visit to check that the fuse box and meter are safe.
  • Flood water can be contaminated with sewage, animal waste and other waste from drains or the surrounding area. This means it may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, or chemicals. Any contaminants in the water are usually very diluted and so the risks of getting ill are low. You should however make sure you wash your hands frequently if handling items affected by flood water.
  • If your tap water is discoloured or has an unusual smell or taste immediately contact your water supply company for advice before use.
  • Further advice is available at Flooding: health guidance and advice - GOV.UK ( and How to recover from flooding - GOV.UK (

Home security

If you have left your home due to flood water, you should take steps to keep it secure. Ensure you:

  • Lock all doors to the property
  • Lock all windows in the property
  • Take any important documents with you
  • Take any portable devices or keys with you including car keys, laptops, iPads or computers
  • Try to find somewhere else to store anything valuable – maybe a family members’ or friend’s house.
  • Try to move other items out of sight, maybe to upstairs rooms
  • Secure sheds, outbuildings and garages.
  • Check your social media settings to limit posts to friends so you don’t advertise your house as empty
  • Return home regularly to check on your property

You could also consider:

  • Talking to trusted neighbours to support each other to monitor empty houses.
  • Leaving curtains or blinds open so it is easier to see when people are there
  • Installing battery powered CCTV cameras such as a Ring doorbells
  • Redirecting post
  • Cancel or redirect any deliveries you may have scheduled

What should I do to make sure I can prepare food safely?

To stop harmful bacteria that might be present in flood water spreading to your food:

  • Don't eat any food that has been touched or covered by floodwater or sewage.
  • Clean and disinfect all work surfaces and kitchen equipment before using them with food – in a dishwasher or by using a suitable disinfectant.
  • Throw away wooden chopping boards and wooden spoons if they have been in contact with flood water.
  • Clean and disinfect the inside of your fridge and food cupboards if they have been touched by flood water.
  • Don't use work surfaces or things like plates if they are badly chipped or damaged.
  • If your tap water may be contaminated, boil and cool it before using it to wash food that won’t be cooked, such as fruit or salad.
  • Store opened food in a container with a lid to make sure the food doesn’t become contaminated.

What should I do with food that was in the fridge or freezer when my home was flooded?

  • If your fridge has not been working for more than four hours, throw away the food inside.
  • Throw away ice cream if it has gone soft.
  • Food in a freezer can remain frozen for 24 hours or more – the fuller the freezer, the longer the contents will remain frozen.

Can I still eat fruit and vegetables I’ve grown in my garden or allotment after flooding?

  • Any fruit and vegetables you’ve grown, which are to be eaten raw such as strawberries or lettuce, which have been covered by flood water should be thrown away.
  • Any produce growing above the water which has not come into contact with flood water (such as fruit on trees) can be washed and eaten.
  • Vegetables underground should not be eaten raw but can be eaten if they are to be cooked and have been thoroughly washed beforehand.

How do I dispose of flood damaged food?

  • Put flood-damaged food in black plastic refuse sacks, double bagged if possible. Then seal the sacks and put them in your black bin.
  • Remember to check with insurers before disposal because food may be insured.
  • Do not be tempted to try to salvage food. This includes tins which may be damaged or contaminated after flooding.

Why am I seeing rats after flooding?

During and after heavy rainfall, rat infestations in and around flooded areas increase. This is due to sewers overflowing and the loss of their usual nesting locations forcing rats above ground to seek alternative shelter.

Rats can create more problems for residents trying to cope with the after-effects of flooding. Not only can they cause damage by gnawing they can also spread diseases and contaminate food. However, there are several ways in which you can help to prevent rodents entering your home:

  • Clear up fallen trees, fences and any other debris that may have accumulated, especially if they are close to buildings.
  • Make sure your property is well sealed. Check for missing roof tiles, cracks and any other openings that may let in rats.
  • Check that any outbuildings don’t have any trapped debris that could provide nesting material for rats.
  • Ensure all foodstuff and animal feeds are kept well sealed and dry.

I have seen rats in my property after flooding - what should I do?

  • If you are a homeowner and you see rats in your property after flooding, you should contact a pest control professional to deal with the problem.
  • If you are a tenant in a private rented, an EMH or other housing association property you should contact your landlord.
  • Please note - the council does not provide a pest control service.

How can I find a pest control company to treat rats in my property?

  • Pest controllers are listed in telephone directories or can be found by an online search. Further information about finding a reputable pest control company is available from the British Pest Control Association via their website at The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) or you can also find pest controllers via the Derbyshire County Council Trusted Trader website
  • When looking for a pest controller, make sure you:
  • get at least three quotations.
  • find out if there is a call out fee or fixed charge.
  • find out what service and guarantee they will provide.
  • ensure they have insurance cover.
  • check their qualifications (a certificate in Pest Control from the Royal Society for Public Health or the British Pest Control Association).
  • If bait is used your pest controller will need to visit a few times to inspect the bait and keep it topped up. They should also carry out a final inspection once the programme is complete to ensure no bait is left behind.

  • If rodenticides are used, your pest controller should carry out an environmental assessment to consider the possible threats to wildlife and domestic animals.

What other information is available to support communities affected by flooding?

See information on communicties affected by flooding on Derbyshire County Council's website.