Cyber-attack & data theft: Our response & service status


We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to provide you with more information about flooding.


What is Floodline?

Floodline in Scotland is operated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). It provides live flooding information and advice on how to prepare for or cope with the impacts of flooding 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our telephone service and website can be accessed by everyone, but by registering with us you can receive free flood messages for your area of interest direct to your phone.

Why should I sign up to Floodline?

Floodline provides live information and advice so you can take action to protect and prepare yourself and your home in advance of flooding, reducing its damage and disruption on your life.

Even if your property is not at risk of flooding, local roads and transport networks could be affected, restricting your ability to get to work, schools or essential facilities.

You can sign up for free and it only takes a few minutes.

What is the difference between a Flood Alert and a Flood Warning?

A Flood Alert is an early indication of potential flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water. It is issued for larger geographical areas – usually the boundaries of local authorities.

If a Flood Alert is issued for your area, you should remain alert and vigilant and make early preparations for potential flooding.

Flood Warnings advise that flooding is imminent. Immediate action is required – take measures to protect yourself and your property.

Our flood monitoring scheme issues targeted Flood Warnings for properties located in affected areas if the residents are signed up. The inclusion of any property within a Flood Warning Area does not specifically imply that the individual property is at risk of flooding, but helps to identify the area at risk.

When you register, Floodline will check your address to see if you can receive Flood Warnings for your local area. Even if your property is not within a Flood Warning Area, you will automatically be registered for Flood Alerts.

Can I sign up to receive warnings for more than one property address?

Yes – as long as you know the postcode for any additional property, you can add it to your account and receive messages relevant to each and every property.

Can I register for a property which isn’t my own – for example my workplace or school?

Yes – if you have the postcode for the area, we can check to see what service is available in that area.

What is a priority number?

You can add several contact numbers to your account when you sign up to the Floodline service, prioritising them in order of importance.

We recommend nominating your most likely point of contact – which may be your mobile, work or home telephone – as your ‘Priority 1’ number. This is the number that the service will contact in the first instance in the event of flooding messages being issued.

If you do not answer the phone or the messages cannot be delivered, the system will try your choice of additional numbers in order of priority, up to a maximum of three times. An answering phone service will be treated as a delivered message.

Why can I not receive flood messages by email?

Due to the nature of flood alerts and flood warnings, messages are only useful if they can be received and read quickly. With emails we cannot guarantee that they have been received and read so delivering our messages through phone and text message provides more certainty that they will be received in a timely manner.

What should I do when I receive a message from Floodline?

Call Floodline on 0345 988 1188. If you call from your registered telephone number, you should be taken directly to the detailed information for your area.

If calling from an unregistered phone, simply enter your quick dial code or codes to access the specific information for your area.

Alternatively, you can view our live flood updates online or visit our mobile website

How do I get my quick dial code?

You can find out your quick dial code or codes online or by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

Will I be charged calling Floodline?

The cost of calling Floodline varies depending on your service provider, your call package and whether a landline or mobile is used. All public bodies are encouraged to use 03 numbers, which are charged at the same rate as calls to 01 and 02 geographical numbers and must be included within free call bundles in phone packages.

General flooding questions

How do you predict flooding?

SEPA works in partnership with the Met Office through the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service to generate data 24 hours a day. This helps us to predict the likelihood and timing of river, coastal and surface water flooding.

What causes flooding?

Flooding occurs most commonly from heavy rainfall. When the ground is saturated, water runs off the land and into water courses which increase a river's flow and level. When a river can’t cope with more water, flooding happens.

Flooding also happens along our coastlines when there are storm surges associated with a high tide coinciding with higher than normal river levels or from surface water.

Can you predict flooding from drains and sewers?

We can’t predict flooding from drains and sewers. However, we have produced a national surface water flood map to help you identify if your area is at risk from the combination of flooding from rainfall and overwhelmed drainage systems.

How do I know if my property is at risk of flooding?

Our flood maps don’t show individual properties, but they can tell you if your area is at risk of flooding.

If you live or travel through an area at risk of flooding, you can be impacted by flooding such as closed roads, school closures or disruption to community services.

Who is responsible for flood defences?

Your local council is responsible for the construction and maintenance of any flood defences in your area. If you would like to know what flood defences there are in your local area, contact your local authority directly.

More information on the responsibilities of each organisations is available of the responsibilities for flooding page.

Where can I find flood protection products?

The Scottish Flood Forum provides information on flood protection products.

Are sandbags effective for flood protection?

The Scottish Flood Forum (SFF) advises that traditional sandbags have many limitations:

  • They may not hold back water unless a waterproof sheet is placed under them.
  • They can be expensive, heavy, difficult to transport and labour intensive to assemble into flood defence barriers.
  • They are prone to leakage, rot very quickly after use and contain viral and bacterial infections often present in flood water.
  • They require proper environmental disposal.

Alternative products, such as barriers, often provide more effective long term protection, are more easily deployed and have greater reliability when fitted correctly. You can find information on flood protection products here

Please note that some insurers may require flood defence products to be industry-approved and certified.

Where can I go to get further advice and support?

Visit Floodline or phone 0345 988 1188 to get advice on how to be prepare for or deal with flooding.

The Scottish Flood Forum also offers independent advice to communities who have been affected from flooding.

As an undergraduate or MSc student, can I request SEPA data for project work?

Unfortunately SEPA is currently unable to support the development of bespoke data licences for academic use during this financial year (2019/20). This is a short term position pending the licensing of data directly to Edina which will therefore increase the availability of SEPA data to our academic audience in the future.

Flood maps

What do the flood maps show?

Our flood maps show you areas which may be affected by flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water. They are designed to help you understand if you could be affected by flooding and the potential impacts.

The flood maps indicate that my property is located in an area at risk of flooding, what should I do?

There are some easy steps you can take to help reduce the impacts of flooding on you and your family. Visit the Floodline website for short animations and useful checklists to help you prepare for flooding.

Signing up to Floodline will also ensure you receive up to date information about where and when flooding may happen.

Remember that the actual risk of flooding has not changed just because it is included on the map – not every property in the highlighted areas is at risk of flooding, but being prepared means reducing the impact flooding can have on your life.

Why do the maps show that I live in a flood risk area yet my property has never flooded?

The maps don’t show flood risk to individual properties, but instead identify areas which, as a whole, are at risk of flooding and its impacts.

If your property is in an area that has a likelihood of flooding, you may be at risk from a range of impacts, from property flooding or vehicle flooding to flooded access routes or disruption to community services.

Can I get access to the data used to create the maps?

We can’t share the data used to create the maps as it supplied by a large number of providers. We have licences and agreements in place with these providers which dictate how we use and share data.

How often are the maps updated?

Flood mapping is a dynamic process and, as we develop and improve our data, methods and techniques, the maps will be reviewed and updated.

We will continue to work with responsible authorities and partner organisations to improve our knowledge, understanding and the representation of flooding across Scotland.

To find out when the flood maps were last update choose the map creation dates link in the top right of the page.

Can the maps be used for commercial purposes?

No – the maps must not be used for commercial purposes such as the development of commercial products or setting insurance premiums.

The maps can, however, inform where further assessment and more detailed work, such as a flood risk assessment, may be required.

Acknowledgement of use of the maps should be clearly referenced in any publications or reports. This will help us ensure the maps are being used for their intended purpose.


Will my insurance premiums go up if my property is in an area you have identified a flood risk?

Our flood maps should have no influence on insurance premiums.

All visitors to the flood maps must agree to terms and conditions before viewing information and these do not allow the maps to be used for commercial purposes.

Some insurance companies have their own flood maps which are used to assess flood risk in the UK.

My policy excess has increased significantly after being flooded – what can I do?

It is worth shopping around for quotes. If you can demonstrate that you have taken steps to minimise potential flood damage (for example, by installing flood protection products), then insurers may take this into consideration when calculating risk.

Flood Re is a joint government and insurance industry initiative created to help provide affordable insurance to those households at highest risk of flooding. You can find out more on the Flood Re website.

The Scottish Flood Forum can also provide advice on finding insurance.

My insurer has asked for a flood risk report – can you provide this?

We do not issue flood risk reports for properties.

If you wish to develop an area of land, you may have to submit a flood risk assessment – the planning section of our website provides more information on the planning process and flooding.

What is Flood Re?

Affordable home insurance for eligible properties which are at risk of flooding is now available through Flood Re. Flood Re is a joint government and insurance industry initiative which was launch in April 2016. You can find ourt more on the Flood Re website.

Flood protection schemes

Where are the 42 flood protection schemes described in the Flood Risk Management Strategies?

Across the strategies there are 42 prioritised flood protection schemes or engineering works. The schemes will contribute to reducing flood risk within a number of communities. The development and delivery of the proposed flood protection schemes are however dependent on receipt of funding and resources available. We have collated the list of prioritised flood protection schemes into one document for ease of viewing.