Advice on keeping yourself, your friends and your family safe during an emergency, for example a flood or heat wave.

In a serious emergency, different services within the borough may be affected. This might include electricity and water supply, congestion on the transport network and the length of time it takes for the emergency services to respond to calls.

With this in mind, it is important for people to be able to take care of each other in an emergency potentially for up to 72 hours before help arrives. The information contained below will enable you to do that.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Planning ahead

Although serious emergencies are rare, you can easily take a few simple steps to make sure you are as prepared as you can be if something happens.

Take some time out to find out:

  • Where and how to turn off the water, gas and electricity supplies in your home
  • The emergency procedures for your children at school
  • How your family will stay in contact in the event of an emergency – does your mobile phone have an ‘In Case of Emergency’ (ICE) contact number which can be accessed even when the phone is locked?
  • Who your neighbours are and whether they are elderly or vulnerable – they might need your help, but you might need theirs as well!
  • How to tune in to your local radio station - make sure you have a battery operated radio in the house

2. What to do in an emergency

Emergencies will usually catch us unawares. If you are not involved in the incident, but are close by or believe you may be in danger, in most cases the advice is:

  • GO IN - Go inside a safe building (or stay inside your home)
  • STAY IN - Stay inside until you are advised to do otherwise
  • TUNE IN - Tune into local radio or TV for more information

This GO IN, STAY IN, TUNE IN advice is recognised and used around the world. There is an agreement with radio and TV companies that if there is a major emergency they will interrupt normal programming to give public safety advice and information about the incident.

If you are at home and an emergency happens try and gather together:

  • Home and car keys
  • A list of useful phone numbers, such as your doctor’s and close relatives
  • Cash and credit/debit cards
  • A battery radio, with spare batteries
  • A torch with spare batteries, candles and matches
  • A First Aid Kit
  • Important documents
  • Spare clothes and blankets
  • Toiletries, sanitary supplies and any regularly prescribed medication
  • Your mobile phone and charger


  • Call 111 if you need medical help fast but it’s not an emergency, you think you need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service or you don’t know who to call
  • Only call 999 for an immediate, life-threatening emergency
  • Try to remain calm and think before acting – never put yourself or others in danger
  • Follow the advice of the emergency services – check for injuries, remember to help yourself before helping others

More advice on emergencies from the Mayor of London.

What to do if you are not at home


If your children are at school you will naturally want to collect them as soon as possible. But it may not be safe to do so. All schools have plans to cope with local emergencies such as fires and flooding, and teachers and support staff do all they can to look after pupils in their charge.

Please TUNE IN to your local radio station for advice and contact the council or school for details of the arrangements being made for children to get picked up.


Employers have a responsibility for the safety and security of their staff. All businesses should have arrangements in place to deal with the impact of a major disaster. Make sure you understand what to do in an emergency at work. Read our business continuity guide.

Specific threats

There are a potential hazards to Lambeth and London as a whole which we need to be aware of:


Influenza, or Flu for short, is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. Flu is especially common in winter and can be very unpleasant, but most people usually begin to feel better within about a week.

In order to reduce the spread of infection the NHS recommends staying at home, getting plenty of rest, keeping warm and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration. More guidance on flu from the NHS.

Cold weather and snow

The weather in the UK is notoriously unpredictable, and sever cold weather can present many challenges particularly to older people, low income families and people living with a disability.

Winter weather and snow can be great fun, but it can also lead to injury and illness when we don’t take proper care. Take time to check weather reports carefully, dress for cold weather if appropriate and take extra care on the road.

More guidance on cold weather and snow.

Heat wave

Keeping cool in the summer is very important, especially for older people, young children and those with certain medical conditions and other at risk groups.

The key signs that you are unwell are dehydration and heat exhaustion.

There are some really simple things that you can do to stay healthy during hot weather:

  • Drink plenty of water (enough to make you need the bathroom at least 4 times a day)
  • Stay in the shade between 11am – 3pm
  • Take rest breaks if you’re out and about
  • Wear sunscreen above SPF15 and cover up in the sun

Take time to make sure that you, your friends and neighbours are prepared for a heatwave. Check up on those who may be less able to look after themselves and make sure they have enough supplies such as food, water and any medication they need.

More advice on health during heatwaves.


Historically, Lambeth has suffered from a range of different types of flooding. While flood defences such as the Thames Barrier protect the north of the borough from fluvial flooding, surface water, groundwater and sewer flood risk remains across the borough, typically in very localised areas. The risk of flooding from all sources is likely to increase in the future as a result of climate change and increasing pressures on development and housing need.

Advice on flooding in Lambeth.

The council’s Flood Risk team have produced information on the different types and associated risks of flooding in Lambeth. Additionally, the Construction Industry and Research Information Association (CIRIA) provide detailed guidance on identifying if your home is at risk from flooding and the steps you can take to improve resilience. Finally, a number of assessments of flood risk in the borough, and what the council is doing to mitigate that risk can be found here. Please note the Council cannot supply individuals with sandbags.

Sign up for flood alerts.
Public Health England advice on what do do before, during and after a flood.

3. Lambeth risk register

We have a responsibility to produce a Borough Risk Register which identifies all the potential hazards in the borough and assesses them based on likelihood and impact.

Use this document to make sure that you have a good understanding of the risks facing the local community and take steps to be prepared and support your friends, relatives and neighbours using the guidance above.


pdf Pandemic Influenza Plan1.32 MB