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Flood Alert, Flood Warning and Severe Flood Warning – What’s The Difference

Posted: 25/08/22

This blog been written by a member of the Newground Flood Team.

Checking whether your home or business is at risk of flooding and signing up for flood warnings is important but it’s even more important that you understand what each flood alert and warning means.



I once saw a poll on Twitter set up to help the Environment Agency understand people’s interpretation of flood risk, which is one of the reasons I decided to write this blog. Out of the 1,199 people who voted on the poll, I was quite shocked to find that 51% of voters thought a Flood Alert meant that you were at a higher risk of flooding than a Flood Warning. This is NOT the case.

Raising awareness of the flood alerts and warning system and what each stage means is key to educating people and preparing them effectively for a possible flood. Outlined below are the different warning stages and what they mean:

Flood Alert

At this stage flooding is POSSIBLE and it is important that you stay alert and vigilant. You can make early preparations for a potential flood by:

  • Monitoring the situation through forecasts, local radio stations and monitoring stations
  • Finding your flood barriers and other flood defence measures and having them ready to install
  • Checking your flood plan is filled in and your flood kit is complete and ready if needed.


Flood Warning

This means that flooding is EXPECTED and immediate action is required to protect yourself and your property. It is important that you:

  • Install your flood barriers and flood defences, if you have them
  • Continue to monitor the situation
  • Carry out actions detailed in your flood plan


Severe Flood Warning

This means that SEVERE flooding IS EXPECTED and there is significant risk to life and property. At this stage you should prepare to evacuate and cooperate with the emergency services. Before you evacuate your property, you should:

  • Get your flood kit before evacuating and
  • Turn off your utility supplies.

To find out if you are at risk of flooding and how to register for the Environment Agency’s free-of-charge Flood Warning Service, visit the ‘Am I at Risk’ page on The Flood Hub here

NOTE: The Flood Warning Service provides alerts and warnings for those at risk of main river and coastal flooding ONLY.

If you have found that you aren’t eligible to register for the free Flood Alert and Warning Service, or are at risk of flooding from other sources, there are a number of alternative triggers you could use instead. Check out our resource for more information here.