Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Water Safety in a Flood

More than 12% of the UK population live in areas at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea which can cause drowning. However, through flood safety education and knowing what to do before, during and after flooding, many of these drownings are preventable. 

Whether there are swollen rivers or general floodwater on roads and pathways, it is vital people follow simple common sense steps during periods of flooding to help ensure they and their families stay safe. 

It is often tempting to take a look at rivers at their peak, but this can be dangerous, and drivers may take risks driving through floodwater, unaware of levels of depth. It is vital not to underestimate the power of floodwater. 

Flood Safety Tips

  • Never drive through floodwater and never attempt to cross if you don’t know how deep the water is. Just two feet of water will float a car
  • Never try to swim through fast flowing water or floodwater – you may get swept away or be struck or caught on an object in the water 
  • Never allow children or pets to go near or play in floodwater. It is hazardous and may be contaminated with chemicals 
  • Keep an eye on weather reports for flooding in your area. Do not travel in heavy rain unless absolutely necessary
  • Don’t assume fords are safe to cross just because the road is not closed, always look at the river level gauge and use your common sense 
  • Do not ignore road closed signs they are there for a reason
  • Prepare a flood kit in case your home floods or you are trapped in a vehicle for any period. This should contain a change of clothing, wellies, waterproofs and blankets as well as a torch, charged mobile, radio, medication and a first aid kit and a list of useful numbers, including flood alert lines 

How to manage a car in flood water

  • Call for help, remove seatbelt and release any children from their seats
  • Turn on all the lights and sound the horn to attract attention (only if this won’t delay your escape)
  • If the water level is low – open the windows and stay in the car 
  • If the water level is high – escape out of the windows, sunroof or doors onto the roof of the car. Stay with the car. If the car starts to move quickly with the water flow, get off the car, stay upstream from the car, and swim vigorously to safety 
  • If the water is entering the car – escape out of the windows, sunroof or doors (breaking windows if necessary). Stay upstream from the car, and swim vigorously to safety 


Click here for the latest flood news and alerts in your area 

Always follow the Water Safety Code. Whenever you are around water:

STOP and THINK - Look for the dangers, always read the signs

STAY TOGETHER - Never swim alone - always go with friends or family

In an emergency:

CALL 999 - Shout for help and phone 999

FLOAT - If you fall in, float or swim on your back. Throw something that floats to anyone who has fallen in

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