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Emergency planning: how to prepare

How to prepare your family or business for an emergency.

Last updated: 29 November 2022

If you're facing an emergency now

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 animal cruelty or seek advice)

How to prepare your family for an emergency (P.L.A.N.)

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 are a potential risk to your family and where possible you should take measures to prepare for an emergency. See our 'What If...' section to find out more about these 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 a 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

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

Choose two locations

If you're separated from your family and can't get to your home, it's useful to have other meeting points. This will help to reunite the family if you can’t make contact by phone.

  • one location should be relatively near 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

You can download a credit-card sized summary of the PLAN advice.
See our Preparing for Emergencies leaflet (PDF)

Tune into the local radio station for the latest updates in an 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 it contains everything 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 - we may provide basic shelter for those affected by an emergency

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

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

Assess the risk of potential emergencies

The information below will help you think about potential risks of an emergency before it happens.

Severe weather

The UK can be affected by extreme weather conditions. For example, severe gales, torrential rain, heavy snow and icy roads, thunderstorms and lightning, heatwaves and dense fog. Local and national news stations give warnings of severe weather. More information can be found on our Flooding advice page.

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 help. Register now if you think you'll need this 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 main supplier of electricity in our borough. For further information regarding power cuts please refer to: 

          Energy networks association

          Power cut 105 

          UK Power Networks

  • British Gas also have arrangements to support their more vulnerable customers

Could your community group help residents in an emergency?

Are you a member of a residents' association, a volunteer for a local charity or active in a local faith community? If so, we'd like to discuss how your group could help out during an incident. Our civil protection team can advise your community group on how you can support residents in an emergency. It can also provide training and assistance if needed.

Get in touch with the civil protection team if you're interested.

'What If...' presentation (PDF) for community groups.

Preparing your business for an emergency

Business Continuity 

In a major incident or emergency, we provide advice on business continuity management. The aim is to help local businesses and voluntary organisations avoid serious disruptions.

What is business continuity management?

Business Continuity Management is a continual process that helps organisations anticipate, prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disruptions. It's a universal framework that applies regardless of the source and the aspect of business affected.