Guidance for caravan and campsites owners and operators
Your responsibilities as a site owner
As the owner of a holiday park, residential park, caravan or campsite, you have a legal obligation to ensure anyone on your site knows what to do if there is a flood.
Understanding your site’s flood risk, and preparing for it now, will help maintain public safety and minimise the risk to life. You will also be able to recover more quickly from the inevitable disruption to your business.
Even if your site has never been flooded before, you should know what precautions to take and be prepared, just as you have already done to minimise the risk of fire. Floods can happen at any time of year. Don’t assume your site won’t flood in the summer months.
Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957: you have a duty of care under the provisions of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957. This includes making anyone on your site – visitors, tenants or homeowners – aware of the risk of flooding.
Your local authority site licence: this will most likely have conditions specifically relating to flood risk. Most licences require you to display a flood warning sign. Check under the notices section of your licence to see if you need to have one. Your local authority, usually the Environmental Health department, can provide further advice on how to meet your licence conditions.
Planning permission: if you have, or are applying for, planning permission on your site, the local authority usually set conditions that relate to flood risk. You will need to satisfy these to get planning permission and you will need to ensure you continue to comply. You may be asked to have a flood evacuation plan, or display flood warning information notices around the site.
In addition to these legal obligations, you should carry out your own research to ensure you are well prepared.
Take time to find out if there’s been flooding in the area before. Speak to local people, check flood risk maps, your local Internal Drainage Board (if there is one in your area), previous site owners or managers and other local operators.
Liaise with the local authority and emergency services (police and fire service) about their own emergency management plans – for example, have they identified other risks and taken into account those that you have recognised?
Understanding flooding and how to get flood warnings
We offer a free flood warning service from Floodline Warnings Direct (FWD), in many areas at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea. FWD gives you an advance warning for your area by telephone, mobile, fax, text or email. All you need to register is a telephone or fax number where you can receive flood warnings at any time of the day or night.
To find out if there are current flood warnings in force:
- Take a look at our live flood map
- Ring Floodline on 0345 988 1188. They can provide you with a quickdial number which gives you direct access to any recorded flood warnings for your local area.
- Listen to local radio and TV for weather information.
If flood warnings are not available
Flood warnings aren’t available everywhere.
If you cannot get flood warnings for your site then you may still be able to register for a flood alert. A flood alert covers a wider geographical area and can give you advance notice of the possibility of flooding so you can begin to monitor the situation.
If there is no flood warning available from our site, you need to put your own system in place to identify if your site is at imminent risk from flooding:
- Use local information and observations. For example, your knowledge and experience of the area will help you assess whether or not the river responds rapidly to heavy rainfall.
- Consider putting a depth marker by the river to help you monitor how high it is rising, or keep an eye on tide heights along the coast. Alternatively, use an existing structure such as a bridge or other local reference point that shows you when the river or sea is getting to dangerous levels.
- You may want to consider giving an earlier precautionary warning for possible flooding if it is likely to happen during the evening or night, as this is when visitors and residents are likely to be in bed or have been drinking alcohol. This will allow them to move cars and touring caravans during daylight hours.
If you need help with flood warning arrangements for your site, please contact us and we will be happy to help.
Understand the different types of flooding and flood codes
Make sure you know and understand what types of flooding affect your site. Often, the source of flooding is not immediately obvious. It could be:
- Tidal – flooding from the sea.
- Fluvial – flooding from the river.
- Surface water – flooding from roads, ditches and fields.
- Groundwater – water from below ground rising above the surface and flooding it.
- Reservoirs – failure or overtopping from a nearby reservoir.
Many areas along the coast are at risk of flooding from the sea. This could be from tide levels or from the impact of waves during severe storms.
Know the flood warning codes
If you register to receive flood warnings it is important that you know the flood warning codes and understand what they mean.
This means flooding is possible. Be prepared.
- Be prepared to act on your flood plan.
- Prepare a flood kit of essential items.
- Monitor local water levels and the flood forecast on our website.
This means flooding is expected. Immediate action required.
- Move family, pets and valuables to a safe place.
- Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if it is safe to do so.
- Put flood protection equipment in place.
Severe flood warning
This means severe flooding. Danger to life.
- Stay in a safe place with a means of escape.
- Be ready to leave your home.
- Cooperate with the emergency services.
- Call 999 if you are in immediate danger.
What to do before a flood
Put up flood warning information signs
You should put flood warning signs up around the site to let your residents and visitors know if flooding is expected.
Include a map of the site which highlights flood information, such as access routes and assembly points.
Think about any special needs of people on your site when making your signs. Do the signs need to be in other languages, be in large print, or at different heights?
Signs should be put in prominent places around the site. For example:
- at reception
- on existing information or notice boards
- on or by rubbish collection points or recycling bins
- near or on direction signposts
- in and around water points
- on the backs of caravan or chalet doors
- at the toilet or shower blocks
Other warning and action signs
Consider putting other signs around the site, for example:
- an ‘Assembly Point‘ sign
- markers along the river bank to show where the river normally flows (this could prevent people from walking into deep water when the river is in flood)
- safe evacuation routes
Daily weather notices
Weather is usually very important to visitors. Post a weather forecast on notice boards and update it daily.
If people are expecting new information they will get into the habit of checking the boards.
If your site is in a coastal or tidal location, include the times of high tides.
If you are able to receive flood warnings, display the current flood warning status. Include the Floodline number and quickdial code for your area so visitors can check for themselves.
Write a flood plan
To ensure public safety, you should have a plan that can be used if there is a flood, just as you would for a fire or other potential hazard.
A flood plan spells out how your site will respond to a flood.
The overall aim of the plan is to minimise risk to life and maintain public safety. It makes it easier to access information during a flood and easier to communicate to staff what actions need to be taken. Having a flood plan will mean that your business will be able to recover more quickly from flooding, allowing business continuity. It also demonstrates good customer care.
Download a flood plan template or use the checklist below to write your own.
Things to think about before you start
- Who will be responsible for activating your flood plan? This may be someone other than you – for example, a site warden or someone who is covering for you while you are away.
- Where are the safe evacuation routes? Avoid potential flow routes and ensure they are well signposted.
- How will you make your staff, residents and visitors aware of the risks and what to do in a flood situation?
- What trigger will you use to activate your flood plan? It could be a warning from Natural Resources Wales or one based on local observations.
- How and when will you organise regular exercises with staff to test the flood plan?
- Where will you keep an up-to-date copy of the plan? It needs to be in a prominent position where all staff, including night staff, know where to access it.
Include a plan of your site
Keep a copy of your site plan in the same place as your flood plan.
The site plan should also include details of:
- isolation points for services, such as gas and electricity, so that you can turn them off
- evacuation routes and traffic management plans
- assembly points, including a ‘crisis centre’ which may be at an off-site location
- location of life-rings in strategic places close to the flood plain
Your site plan will be useful to the emergency services, so keep it up-to-date and readily available.
Health and safety
The overall aim of any flood plan is to reduce the risk to life and to maintain public safety.
It is the primary responsibility of the site management team to ensure the health and safety of all visitors, residents and staff at all times on the site.
If there is flooding, every person on site should assess their own situation and ask for help if required. Remember, your team are not trained members of the emergency services. At no time should a member of staff be asked to do anything that could put their life at risk.
High visibility jackets are a good idea to help staff be seen. It also helps to identify them and their role during flooding.
You may need to provide help for elderly people or those with additional needs. They may also need extra time to evacuate, which should be taken into account.
You should identify individual needs and make staff aware of them as they may require assistance during a flood.
Keep up-to-date lists of useful contacts and include names of staff that are available to assist, contacts at emergency services, your insurance company and the Floodline number.
Responding organisations, for example, ambulance, fire and police, have limited resources and may not be able to provide assistance in all circumstances. This is why it is important to have your own plan in place.
Activating your flood plan
Don’t set the trigger point for your flood plan too high when the site is about to flood. Make sure you allow enough time to activate your plan, and make sure you include this information in your plan.
Monitor the situation
- Check weather conditions, river levels and tide levels where relevant to decide when you might need to activate your plan.
- Check daily weather forecasts for heavy rain.
- Check our flood risk forecast.
- Listen to radio and TV weather forecasts for severe weather alerts.
- You can check the latest weather situation on the Met Office website.
- You can visit our website to find out if there are any current flood warnings in force.
- Check times of all high tides if you are at risk from coastal flooding.
Raising the alarm
Alarm equipment, such as a bell, siren, or megaphones, should be available.
Instructions on how to operate it should be available and known to staff. All equipment must be maintained in working order and checked regularly.
Flood plans – staff responsibilities
Train your staff. All staff should know about the plan and be trained in what to do during a flood.
You should establish and communicate:
- staff responsibilities (individual and general) in a flood. Have someone (or a team) responsible for crisis-management including:
- someone who will make decisions
- someone who knows the layout of the site
- someone in charge of communications to residents and visitors
- a way of making your staff easily identifiable – for example, a uniform or high visibility jacket
- a way for staff to communicate during emergencies – for example, radios, mobile telephones
Carry out practice drills with staff, including as part of their induction when they begin working for you, so that they understand their roles and responsibilities in a flood situation. Training should include:
- triggers to activate the flood plan
- how to raise the alarm
- evacuation procedures
- where to find, and how to use, any equipment that may be required
- where the evacuation routes are and how to use them
- who to contact for help
Members of staff with managerial responsibility for emergencies will require more detailed training.
In addition to the above, it is important that their training covers areas such as public authority liaison and managing other staff members in a crisis situation.
Site management team
- health and safety of staff, residents and visitors
- current list of staff, residents and visitors
- staff training and awareness
- visitor awareness
- emergency contact numbers list
- up-to-date site plans including where to turn off gas and electricity
- sharing evacuation plan with staff, residents and visitors
Site team members
- knowing roles and duties during a flood
- helping to safely evacuate residents and visitors, especially those more vulnerable
At no time should staff carry out any task that could put their life at risk.
Making sure your flood plan will work
Test staff procedures
Once you have completed your flood plan, the next step is to test it with staff.
Carry out a simulated flooding event. This will test if communication links are set up and telephone numbers are correct. You could carry out this test when the site is closed to visitors. If this is not possible and your site has to stay open, you do not need to inform visitors that you are doing the test.
You should document every practice and staff training session.
Use these sessions to gather staff feedback on whether the flood plan should be changed or updated.
Telling people about your flood plan
Make everyone on site aware of your flood plan.
For example, you could include a note in the site information that visitors receive when they book in at reception, or include it in your annual pitch fee request.
Show them where the assembly points and the flood warning information signs are located.
Information could be provided to visitors either verbally or in writing. Visitors will feel reassured that the site is acting responsibly and has given consideration to their safety.
Keep an up-to-date copy of your plan in a prominent position where all staff can access it. Consider distributing a copy to all staff members for reference, but remember to provide them with updates when the plan is revised.
Keep your plan up-to-date
Your plan has been designed and developed by you and your staff. It belongs to you and not Natural Resources Wales or local authority.
For your plan to succeed you need to ensure that the details within it are checked and updated regularly. Everything must remain up-to-date, with current information and contact numbers.
If you do get flooded, review your flood plan afterwards and amend as necessary.
This short checklist outlines the key things to think about for your flood plan. Work through the checklist now and ensure you have your flood plan in place before the next flood.
1. Check my site licence and planning permission to see if there are any conditions relating to flood risk.
2. Write my flood plan, or check an existing one covers all the factors above.
3. Make sure that all staff are aware my flood plan exists, know their role in the plan and where it is located.
4. Schedule exercises to test the flood plan.
5. Put up flood warning information signs around the site and organise a way to raise the alarm.
6. Have a flood monitoring and warning system in place.
7. Put in place practical ways of minimising flood risk.
8. Check my insurance covers my business for flood damage, business interruption and lost revenue.
Minimising the impacts of flooding
The British Holiday & Homes Parks Association (BH&HPA) and National Caravan Council (NCC) have published ‘Guidelines of good practice for the transportation, movement, siting, de-siting and commissioning of single unit caravan holiday homes’.
The guidelines provide essential advice for owners of caravans and holiday homes to help minimise damage.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a copy of the guide. However, the advice provided in the document is not exhaustive.
All site owners are ultimately responsible for taking appropriate steps to safeguard health and safety and comply with relevant laws.
Using the axle stands, you can raise the caravans above ground level by about 0.5 metres to reduce the risk of floodwater reaching the underside of the floor.
If floodwater reaches floor level or above, many insurance companies will not allow the caravan to be reoccupied and it will need to be replaced.
Anchors or tethering
Because of their structure, some caravans can float away in just two feet of water.
There are many ways you can anchor them.
It may be practical to fit flotation devices to static caravans. The devices are attached to the bottom of the caravans and, once inflated, allow the caravan to be lifted during flooding and lowered as flood waters subside.
Touring caravans and tents
Touring caravans and tents can be removed from the site if sufficient warning has been given and the river levels are not rising rapidly.
How this will be done should be written into your flood plan. It may be advisable to try and give precautionary warnings in advance of possible flooding so that visitors can decide to move their caravans/cars early.
In each case it is important to discuss all plans and proposed measures with your insurance company, to ensure that you are complying with their policy conditions.
Park or site layout
You should consider how flood risk might affect the layout of your site.
You may need to consider evacuation routes through areas not at risk of flooding, and access routes for those with disabilities. One way to manage flood risk could be to move static caravans to higher ground and put touring caravans and tents in lower lying areas.
Temporary barriers and flood protection products
These can be quick and easy to deploy. They are readily assembled, dismantled, stored or reassembled. It takes roughly six to eight people to erect 100m of demountable defences in an hour.
Out of season and safe storage
Think about how your caravans are stored out of season.
Keep caravans stored as far away as possible from low lying areas of your site. You could tie them together and anchor them down.
Look at how you store your gas cylinders and pollutants, such as paint and chemicals. You should secure them or remove them from the flood risk area.
Fit non-return valves to all drains and water inlet pipes to prevent water entering properties through them.
Check if your site office is in a flood risk area.
If it is, you should copy important records and keep them in a safe place, above flood levels. This includes financial and insurance records, product lists, staff, customer and supplier databases and staff files – and your flood evacuation plan.
Find out if your business insurance covers you for flood damage, business interruption and lost revenue.
Not all insurance companies cover flooding, so it is important to check.
It is important to discuss all plans and proposed measures with your insurance company, to ensure that you are complying with their policy conditions.
If you do flood, make sure you get photographic or video evidence of the damage before the clean-up process. This may help when you talk to your insurance company.
Who does what during a flood?
This lists the principle actions of each organisation. It may not always be possible for all actions to be carried out during a flood event.
The emergency services have limited resources so may not be able to provide assistance in all circumstances. In such cases, owners need to be aware that they should make their own arrangements to protect their site from flooding. This should be clearly stated in the flood plan.
Natural Resources Wales:
- forecasts flooding and issue flood warnings
- receives and records details of flooding incidents
- monitors the situation and advise other organisations
- deals with emergency repairs and blockages on main rivers and structures it owns
- responds to pollution incidents
Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFA) – County Council and Unitary Authority:
- coordinates emergency arrangements
- maintains safe conditions on the roads
- puts flood warning signs on the highway
- clears blockages on highway drainage systems
- may take action to protect property from flooding by water from the highway where there is a failure of the highway drainage system
- leads the coordination of flood risk management in their areas
- develops local flood risk management strategies for local sources of flooding
- manages the risk from surface water and groundwater flooding
- maintains a register of structures or features which have a significant effect on flood risk in their area
- clears blocked watercourses (Land Drainage Act powers)
- deals with environmental health issues, including pollution
- take an overall coordination role during an incident
Fire and Rescue Service:
- respond to all emergency incidents as required
- assist the public where a need is identified and the use of Fire Service personnel and equipment is required
- clear blockages in public sewers
- may take action to protect property from flooding by water from the public water mains or discharges from the public sewerage systems
Electricity, gas and telecommunication companies
- attend to emergencies relating to their service at properties where life is at risk as a result of flooding
- attend to flooding emergencies at their own serviced installations
After the flood
When flood waters have receded, there are still dangers which you should be aware of.
Flood waters may have damaged structures and buildings, and gas and electricity that has not been turned off may pose a risk to life.
Flood water can also contaminate everything it comes into contact with.
Here are some useful precautionary measures for you to consider:
- Check for structural damage before entering a building or caravan. Turn off any gas and electrical appliances and turn power off at isolation points until you are sure it is safe to turn it back on. Get a qualified electrician or gas technician to check.
- Use a battery powered torch. Do not use an open flame source of light – gas may be trapped inside enclosed spaces such as caravans.
- Make sure drinking water has not been contaminated – get it tested.
- Make sure caravans and homes are well ventilated to help with drying. Clean down all surfaces with disinfectant.
- Wear protective clothing if dealing with contaminated surfaces. If you are worried about any contamination, speak to your local authority’s Environmental Health Unit. If anyone becomes ill after coming in contact with flood water, they should visit their doctor.
- Don’t allow anyone back on site until all health and safety checks have been completed.
- Contact your local authority’s Social Care team for help with vulnerable people returning to flooded properties.
Ring your insurance company as soon as possible.
Insurance companies will want full details of any damage you wish to claim for. It is best to get as much photographic or video evidence as possible. Don’t dispose of anything until you have checked with your insurance company first.
Think about what you could learn from your experiences of the situation and amend any shortcomings in your flood and evacuation plans. It will be important to evaluate your flood plan now it has been tested for real. Make amendments and corrections where needed.
More help and advice
- Find out what flood warning service is available where you live.
- Get practical advice on what to do before, during and after a flood.
- Ask for your quickdial number for easy access to local warnings.
0345 988 1188 (24 hours)
Internal Drainage Board
Check the Association of Drainage Authorities to see if your area has an Internal Drainage Board and seek its advice.
Flood products and services
National Flood Forum (Blue Pages)
- National charity campaigning on behalf of flood risk communities.
- Find out how to insure your property for flooding.
- Get independent advice about flood protection products and services.
- Find out how to recover if your property has been flooded.