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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Advice on preventing different types of emergencies

Preparing for an emergency may be able to help you cope better with an emergency if it happens. But there are also things you can do to make it less likely that some emergencies will happen at all.

Fire prevention

There are steps you can take in and outside of the home to reduce the risk of fires.

Preventing fires in your home

You can contact your local fire and rescue services for a free fire safety check using the link below (don’t call 999). Read ‘Fire safety in the home’ to find out more about booking an assessment and ways to prevent home fires.

Preventing fires outside

Fires outside can be caused by things like barbecues, bonfires and fireworks. You can prevent many fires by using simple fire safety tips. Read ‘Fire safety outside the home’ for information on steps you can take to stop a fire from happening.

Flooding and severe weather

Natural hazards, such as floods and other severe weather, regularly affect the UK. As well as causing damage to buildings and transport networks, they can also lead to widespread loss of gas, electricity, water and telecommunications. This can happen in areas far from where the incident has happened.

Preventing flooding in your area

If you see a blocked drain or sewer on your street or in your area, you should contact your water company or your local council.

If you see a watercourse (eg river or stream) blocked by a vehicle or fallen tree which may cause flooding, you can contact the Environment Agency helpline on 0800 80 70 60.

You can also go to the Environment Agency website to sign up for free flood warnings or to use a flood map which shows your area’s risk of flooding.

Snow, ice and cold weather - being prepared

You can help prevent emergencies in cold weather by checking on elderly neighbours to see if they are ok and by clearing pavements of ice and snow. You can also contact your council to request road gritting or snow clearance.

You should also make sure your car is in good shape and that you have an emergency kit in the boot.


Heatwaves can affect your health and water supplies can be put at risk. The Met Office provides forecasts and weather warnings that can help you prepare for a heatwave.

Crime prevention

You can contact your local police station about crime prevention initiatives in your area. Read ‘Preventing and reporting a crime’ to find out what you can do and how you can get involved.

Online security - preventing 'cyber attacks' to your computer

Cyber attacks can cause serious damage to your computer. They can also make it possible for someone to access or steal the personal information you keep on your computer. To find out ways to protect your computer and keep you and your family safe online, visit the Get Safe Online website, the UK’s national internet security campaign.

What can you do to help prevent a terrorist attack?

Keep alert and be vigilant - look out for suspicious behaviour, vehicles or packages. Terrorists could attack at any time. They like public places, especially where people gather or travel.

If you suspect it, report it

Call 999 if you think there is an immediate danger or call the Police Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321 to report suspicious behaviour.

Major industrial accidents - local and widespread impacts

Major industrial accidents can cause contamination of the environment or food supply, and the failure of gas, electricity, communications or water networks.

They can affect large geographical areas in the UK and make accessing essential services difficult. People living closest to major industrial sites – eg nuclear power stations - should receive advice from specific sites on dealing with an emergency.

Public protests and trade disputes - staying aware

In certain protest and disputes, disruptions may occur. For example, trade disputes can disrupt transport networks and protests can affect safety and security. By staying aware of what is happening, you can help prepare for any emergency.

International events and emergencies - getting support

Emergencies overseas such as natural disasters, wars or terrorist attacks may affect large numbers of British nationals. People may need to get back home quickly or injured people may need to be brought back to the UK.

A network of organisations can provide information, support and advice if you or someone you know gets caught up in an emergency overseas.

Information on major transport accidents

Air, sea, and major road and rail accidents can all lead to loss of life, damage to the environment and significant disruption.

Infectious diseases

Pandemic disease, such as H1N1 (swine flu), has the potential to cause severe social and economic disruption. More than 30 new infectious diseases have been identified across the world during the past 25 years. These infections (such as SARS) can spread rapidly and cause an outbreak in the UK.

Animal diseases

Animal diseases that can’t be passed to humans, like Foot and Mouth, can affect livestock movement and sale and lead to widespread vaccination or culling.

Animal diseases that can be passed to humans from animals, such as West Nile Virus and Rabies, are rare. Outbreaks of these types of disease would mean that specific public health measures would also need to be put in place.

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