Over the last 10 years, the UK has experienced flooding like never before. Many areas that were not expected to flood, did so, with devastating effects. If you live in an area which is now prone to flooding, you need to be prepared as it is sure to happen again. The better prepared you are, the better you’ll cope with the effects of flooding.
Do what you can now to prepare for a flood. Don’t leave it until the flood has started, you may not have time.
Preparing for the flood
There are many things you can do
- Do keep a list of useful numbers somewhere you’ll remember, e.g. your local council, the emergency services, your insurance company and the Environment Agency’s Floodline number
- Do check with Floodline on 0845 988 1188 whether there are specific flood warning arrangements for your area
- Do get some sandbags (to block doors and airbricks but remember to ensure that there is adequate ventilation). Check in Yellow Pages under Builders Merchants for local suppliers or ask your local authority for advice. You can also make them yourself by using old pillow cases or carrier bags filled with sand or earth
- Do find out whether your area has flooded before. Look in the library or ask neighbours what happened and how they coped
- Do make a flood kit. Keep a torch, battery or wind-up radio, and necessary medication, emergency numbers, rubber gloves and your insurance policy in a safe place, upstairs if possible
- Do find out where to turn off your gas and electricity supplies. If you’re not sure, ask the person who checks your meter when they next visit. Mark the tap or switch with a sticker to help you remember.
There are also many things you should not do, as follows
- Don’t underestimate the damage a flood can do
- Contact your insurance company to check you have adequate flood cover
- Don’t assume everyone knows what to do. Make a family flood plan and practice it
- Don’t wait for the flood to happen. Floods can occur very quickly. If you aren’t prepared now, you may not have time to get ready once the flooding starts.
When the flood starts
Things you should do once the flood has started
- Do keep watching and listening. Stay alert, events can change very quickly during a flood. Keep an eye on the weather and listen out for warnings on the radio and TV
- Do be careful. It is tempting to stand on walls and bridges to see what is happening but it is all too easy to slip and fall in
- Do move people and pets upstairs or to higher ground
- Do listen to local radio and TV for announcements. If the flooding is serious the emergency services and your local authority may decide to evacuate you. Do exactly what they tell you. Remember to take supplies such as medication with you, you may be away from your home for a while.
Once a flood is in progress, it is advisable not to do the following
- Don’t drive through floodwater. Two feet of flowing water is enough to sweep your car away
- Don’t walk in floodwater that is above knee level, it can easily knock you off your feet. The water could cover open manholes, road works or objects and you won’t be able to see them
- Don’t touch items that have been in contact with the water. Flood water is likely to be contaminated and could contain sewage. Disinfect and clean thoroughly everything that’s got wet.
After the Flood has finished
Once the flood has finished you should do the following
- Do call your insurance company. Tell them what’s happened. They’ll need to get moving quickly
- Do check in Yellow Pages under Flood Damage for suppliers of cleaning materials or equipment to dry out your property
- Do contact the gas, electricity and water companies. You’ll need to have your supplies checked before you turn them back on. Find their numbers on the back of a recent bill or in the phone book
- Do open your doors and windows to ventilate your home. It takes a brick about an inch a month to dry out, so take care to ensure your house is secure. Remember to unblock your airbricks and doorways
- Do watch out for any broken glass or nails while you’re clearing up
- Do wash taps and run them for a few minutes before use. Mains tap water should not be contaminated but check with your local water company if you’re concerned.
After the flood, it is advised you do not carry out the following
- Don’t turn any electrical items back on. Make sure they’ve dried out first
- Don’t trust bogus traders. With so much damage to repair, it’s tempting to take the first offer that comes along. Always check references and, if possible, get recommendations
- Don’t panic if you feel you can’t cope. The Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and other organisations may be able to help if you feel under pressure
- Don’t think it can’t happen again. Restock your supplies.
Important Note: The UK now experiences flooding like never before. Be aware that contacting your insurance company after a flood can be quite difficult due to the amount of people that may have been flooded at any one time. Its also important to note that some builders offering to put things right quickly, will prey on people who have been subjected to flooding. Take advice from your insurance company first.
Useful Links in the event of Flooding
- Environment Agency
- National Flood Forum
- The Met Office
- Government Advice Leaflet
- Flood Alerts
- River Levels