How to prepare for a flood

There's often no way to prevent a flood, but there are many ways to keep safe. Floods can be caused by storms with heavy rain and are dangerous because the water spills onto the land and enters houses and buildings. It will most likely affect people living in low-lying areas, and other possible causes include: 

  • poor drainage, 
  • man-carrying-dog-floodseeping; caused by water rising through cracks,
  • a rise of water levels in seas, rivers and dams, and
  • leaking in old or poorly built structures.

Sea water floods are caused by ocean current surges together with strong winds that blow across the sea and make huge waves that flow onto the land and flood seaside areas.

How to be prepared

Get to know your community's emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes and locations of emergency shelters.

During severe storms, you can listen to your local radio station or use social media, for warnings about possible  floods and to determine how it affects traffic in your neighbourhood. Here’s what you need to do:

Before a flood

  • Have a first aid kit and include all necessary medication.
  • Save emergency numbers on your cellphone.
  • Contact your insurance company to ensure that natural disasters are covered.
  • Teach your children to memorise your phone number in the correct order.
  • Keep all your personal documents, credit cards and medical aid details in a waterproof bag.
  • Pack dry clothing and keep warm.
  • Have a whistle to signal for help.
  • Pack non-perishable foods, candles, water and matches.
  • Safeguard your home by fixing cracks, pipes and clearing gutters.
  • Raise your appliances off the ground.
  • Seal your walls and open spaces, by adding other materials to keep the water out.
  • Have a torch, battery radio and spare batteries.
  • Switch off all electrical appliances.
  • Tie down all moveable objects outside of your home.

Flood awareness

During a flood

  • Monitor the news using your radio or social media.
  • Avoid flooded roads, especially where water appears to be rushing.
  • Travel to high-lying areas, particularly areas advised by emergency services. 
  • Avoid low-lying areas and areas near to rivers and dams.
  • Trust emergency authorities and evacuate if instructed to do so.
  • Take your pets with you.
  • Leave your car if it can't move.

After a flood

  • Call your insurance company to find out about claiming for damages.
  • Don’t use any electrical appliances until an electrician has checked your home.
  • Avoid using water as it may be contaminated, you should contact your local municipality for assistance.

Be extra vigilant and careful

  • Never try to walk, swim, drive or play in floodwater.
  • Don't cross any bridges during a flood.
  • Be aware of electricity and animals in flood water when cleaning up after a flood.
  • Be careful in the dark. Evacuating in the evening is very dangerous, as flood hazards may be hard to see.

Have an emergency plan

Don't be caught off-guard. Be sure to sit with your family and work out an escape route in case there is a flood near or in your home.

Remember to decide on a safe spot to meet outside in case of an emergency, and memorise the important emergency numbers. 

Emergency numbers

Dial 112 from any cellphone, or 10177 from a landline in case of an emergency.

You can also contact your district disaster management centre for more assistance.

District Contact person Telephone Address
National Ken Terry 012 334 0421 /11

COGTA Building, 87 Hamilton Street Arcadia, Pretoria.

Western Cape Colin Deiner 021 937 6301

EMS Building, Tygerberg Hospital premises,

Francie Van Zijl Drive, Parow.

City of Cape Town Greg Pillay 080 911 4357 Hugo Street, Goodwood, Cape Town.
Cape Winelands Shaun Minnies 021 888 5847 Worcester Fire Station, Breede Valley.
Central Karoo Hein Rust 023 414 4467 N1 North Weighbridge, Beaufort West.
Eden  Gerhard Otto 044 803 1435 54 York Street, George.
Overberg Reinhard Geldenhuys 028 425 1157 26 Long Street, Bredasdorp.
West Coast Suretha Visser 022 433 8700 17 Station Street, Mooreesburg.


Get the support you need

You can find help and support from the South African Weather ServicesEskom and South African Police Services before and after a flood has occurred.

The content on this page was last updated on 7 June 2017