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The reality of having your home flooded is difficult to understand unless you have been through the experience – you can face months away from home while it is being repaired. A flood can also mean the prospect of losing some or all of your possessions as well as an immense amount of disruption to normal family life.

Assess your level of risk - low lying areas, close to rivers, on the coast. Regardless of how a flood occurs, the rule for being safe is simple: head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater.

Before a flood

  • Find out from your local council if your home or business is at risk from flooding.
  • Plan what to do with your pets and livestock if you have to evacuate.
  • Know where the closest high ground is and how to get there.
  • Develop a Household Emergency Plan.
  • Assemble and maintain your Emergency Survival Items for your home as well as a portable getaway kit.
  • Check your insurance policy to ensure you have sufficient cover.

During a flood or if a flood is imminent

  • Listen to your radio - emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
  • If you have a disability or need support, make contact with your support network.
  • Put your household emergency plan into action and check your getaway kit. Be prepared to evacuate quickly if it becomes necessary. 
  • Where possible, move pets inside or to a safe place, and move stock to higher ground.
  • Consider using sandbags to keep water away from your home.
  • Lift valuable household items and chemicals as high above the floor as possible.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks and storage containers with clean water in case water becomes contaminated. 
  • Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities as it can help prevent damage to your home or community. Unplug small appliances to avoid damage from power surges.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk through floodwaters unless it is absolutely essential.


After a flood

  • It may not be safe to return home even when the floodwaters have receded. Continue to listen to your local radio station for civil defence instructions.
  • Help others if you can, especially people who may require special assistance.
  • Throw away food including canned goods and water that has been contaminated by floodwater.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated. If in doubt, check with your local council or public health authority.
  • Look for and report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
  • If your property is damaged, take notes and photographs for insurance purposes. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.

Flood recovery and insurance InsuranceCouncilNZ

  • Follow the instructions of Civil Defence and emergency services providers.
  • Do not do anything that puts your safety at risk or causes more damage to your property.
  • Contact your insurer, or insurance adviser, as soon as possible.
  • Avoid entering flood water, either on foot or in a vehicle. Flood water can contain raw sewage and contaminants, conduct electricity and mask hidden hazards, and poses a serious hazard to health. It may be deeper, or moving faster, than you expect.
  • Try to make buildings safe and weatherproof but don’t make any emergency repairs unless it is safe to do so. Don't start non-essential repairs without your insurance company’s approval.
  • If water has entered your property, don't turn on your electricity until it has been inspected by an electrician.
  • Get essential services, such as water, electricity, gas and sewerage, repaired and keep copies of any invoices.
  • Do what’s necessary to make your home safe and sanitary. When cleaning, wear a mask, gloves and overalls to minimise exposure to possibly-hazardous materials.
  • Take pictures and make a list of any perishables you have to dispose of.
  • Remove and discard any water or mud-damaged goods that pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings.
  • Take photos of damaged property to help speed up the assessments and claims process.
  • Keep any damaged items that don’t pose a health and safety risk.
  • Do not drive your vehicle if it has suffered water damage.


Important items to take with you if you need to leave
  • Cash and personal identification.
  • Torch, radio, and water.
  • A change of clothes and a sleeping bag or blankets for each household member.
  • First aid kit, including prescription medications, dentures, extra eyeglasses, and hearing aid batteries.
  • Car keys and house keys.
  • Any pets that you can get without endangering yourself.
  • You may not be able to come back for them later as it may be too dangerous to return.
getaway kit
Stay informed and share information

When an emergency happens don't wait for everyone else to find out in their own time. Share information with family, friends and neighbours.

Recommended information sources.

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Check on your neighbours

Get to know your neighbours, find out who can help you and who might need your help.

Other useful websites to help you prepare:

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 StayInformed md