Emergency planning: how to prepare


What you can do to prepare for, and deal with, emergencies.

You can call the following:

  • Emergency services: 999
  • NHS 111 service: 111
  • Waltham Forest Council (including housing): 020 8496 3000 (24 hours a day)
  • Thames Water: 0800 316 9800
  • National Grid Transco Gas: 0800 111 999
  • EDF Energy: 0800 028 0247
  • Transport for London: 0344 7222 1234
  • Anti-terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321
  • Waltham Forest Police: 101 (non-emergency)
  • Environment Agency Flood Line: 0845 988 1188
  • RSPCA: 0300 1234 999 (to report cruelty or seek advice)


Take a few simple steps to prepare for emergencies. Planning ahead could keep you and your family safe.

You simply need to P.L.A.N.

P = Prepare

Understanding how an emergency might affect you and your family will help you to prepare.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Is my home at risk from local hazards?

Do you live near to a river, a train station or an industrial estate? Can you see power lines or a water reservoir from your window? All of these are a potential risk to your family and where possible you should take measures to prepare for an emergency. See our 'What If...' section for more information on potential risks.

What equipment would I need if my neighbourhood was evacuated, or the power and water failed?

Having a supply of essential items at home can keep you safe during an emergency. Check out our list of ‘N: Necessary kit’ further below.

Have I got alternative routes to get to work?

If you use London Underground, would you know what bus to catch if your tube line is closed? Transport for London website

Are my home and contents insured?

Losing your home or your possessions as a result of disaster can be a very distressing experience. Insurance cover can reduce the pain somewhat by helping you to pay for property repairs and the replacement of lost items. Make sure your property is covered.

Do I know how to turn off the gas, water and electricity to your home

If you’re asked to evacuate your property, or if there is structural damage to your home, you may be asked to turn off the utilities. Know where to find the electricity mains, the main gas valve and the water supply.

Does my family know what to do in an emergency?

Discuss how an emergency might affect the family and tell them about any family emergency plan. Think ahead. It is important you consider these issues before an emergency occurs. It may be difficult to organise your family once an emergency starts. Make some simple preparations while you can.

L = Link Up

Making contact with your family could be difficult if the mobile phone network is inundated with calls. Preparing beforehand can help you to stay in contact with your family during an emergency.

Choose two locations

If you are separated from your family and cannot get to your home, having alternative meeting points will help to reunite the family if you can’t make contact by phone.

  • one location should be relatively close to your home so you can get to it easily in a small emergency
  • the other meeting point should be further away from home in case an emergency affects a much wider area

Choose an emergency contact

Choose a friend or relative living outside London who you can all phone to tell them you are OK. Keep their number in your mobile under ICE (In Case of Emergency). This person can then pass on messages between you and other family members.

Keep your emergency contacts with you

The council provides a credit card-sized summary of the PLAN advice with space for you to add your own emergency contact details. You can download a copy of our Preparing for Emergencies (354KB PDF file) leaflet.

Make sure you can tune into the local radio station to receive updated information on any emergency.

Evacuation checklist

If you have to leave your home:

  • listen to the advice of the emergency services
  • collect your emergency grab bag (see below) and make sure you have the contents on the checklist
  • check you have your keys, wallet and phone
  • grab some warm clothing to change into
  • make sure you secure your home properly

A = Accommodate

You may not be able to get to your home in an emergency. Make sure you have an alternative place to stay. This could be:

  • with your friends and family; these can be the same as your meeting points
  • hotels and bed and breakfasts - sometimes your house insurance provides emergency accommodation
  • an emergency rest centre - the council may provide basic shelter for those affected by an emergency

You’ll need to contact the council to find the nearest emergency rest centre to you.

N = Necessities

Make sure you have the essential kit to survive if you have to stay inside or out of your home:

Emergency grab bag checklist

  • torch (with batteries)
  • radio marked with frequencies for local stations (with batteries)
  • first aid kit
  • bottled water/ canned drinks
  • mobile phone (with charger)
  • money and bank cards
  • basic toiletries
  • essential medicine
  • emergency phone numbers
  • identification documents
  • home and car keys
  • insurance documents

Use the information below to help you think about potential risks of an emergency before it happens.

Severe weather

The UK can be affected by extreme weather conditions including severe gales, torrential rain, heavy snow and icy roads, thunderstorms and lightning, heatwaves and dense fog. All of these hazards can affect the borough. Local and national news stations give warnings of severe weather. Flooding advice

Contamination of the local environment

If this happens, follow the government advice to Go in, stay in, tune in

A power cut or loss of water supply for over 24 hours

Utility companies offer priority services for residents who need extra assistance. Register now if you think you will need priority support during a utility failure.

  • Thames Water supplies water to Waltham Forest. If you are eligible, sign up for Thames Water Extra care services
  • UK Power Networks (formerly EDF energy) is the primary supplier of electrical power to the borough
  • British Gas also have arrangements to support their more vulnerable customers

'What If...' presentation (PDF, 735KB)for community groups.

If you’re a member of a residents association, a volunteer for a local charity or an active member of a local faith community, we would like to discuss how your group could help out during an incident. The civil protection team is happy to advise your community group on how you can support residents in an emergency and can provide training and assistance if appropriate.

Contact the civil protection team if you think your community group might be able to help.

Find out how you can prepare your business with our advice for businesses.

Further information Click to get info

These are some of the organisations that the council works with at a regional level to plan for emergencies:

Contact Click to get info

Civil Protection Service
Waltham Forest Town Hall
Forest Road
E17 4JF

Phone 020 8496 3000