Friday, 23 September 2016

Preparing for a flood

With heavy rain and thunderstorms causing flash floods across some areas of the UK last week, we've all been reminded of the devastation and destruction that these natural events can cause. While there's nothing we can do to control the weather, careful preparation can significantly help to mitigate the damage and distress which inevitably accompanies an instance of flooding in our homes.


Follow flood warning and weather warning issued by the met office and the environment agency for your area. These can be found at and

Once a flood warning has been issued it's a good idea to make up a flood kit, containing essential items and information to help you cope should flooding affect your home. The one thing most victims of a flood will tell you is the how fast the flood waters rose. Being prepared could save valuable property such as photographs or valuable jewellery and more importantly the lives of you, family and pets. Your kit should include a plan detailing how to turn off your gas, water and electricity, your evacuation site and a list of what to take with you. Important items to include are blankets, a mixture of warm and waterproof clothing, wellington boots , a first aid kits, rubber gloves and hand sanitizer. When preparing for a flood, be sure to move all valuable items and clothing to a high place and keep a small stock of strong plastic sheeting, sandbags and sand to protect doors and air vents against the rising floodwater. For more long term protection, use domestic flood barriers and fit toilet bungs to all downstairs WCs to mitigate the effects of floodwater rising through the sewage system.

Always be sure to follow the evacuation advice of the emergency services and Environment Agency.

When a flood is imminent
Just before a flood is about to occur, disconnect washing machines and dishwashers to protect them from backflow and turn off gas, electricity and water at the stop valve. Be sure to close the lid on downstairs WCs and put a weight on top or use toilet bungs.

If you have to walk through floodwaters, take care to avoid any hazards that might be lurking below the surface and try to keep children and other vulnerable people out of the water altogether. Remember, drain and other services access covers may be missing and it is easy to get trapped or sucked into these whilst in floodwater. Always let the emergency services rescue you rather than walking through flood water. As it is often contaminated with sewage, chemical or animal waste it's important to wash hands thoroughly after contact.

Once flooding starts to recede
When the floodwater begins to recede, a pump and generator can be used to remove standing water. Bear in mind that these tools should be used with caution and because they produce dangerous carbon monoxide fumes they should only be positioned in the open air. Only pump water when flood levels outside the property start to be lower than inside as this will help to reduce the risk of structural damage. Make sure that gas and heating oil supplies are checked only by a quality plumber or heating engineer. Check that any person called out to work on gas installations is registered with Gas Safe and carries a Gas Safe Register photo ID card.

When drying out your property, keep the thermostat between 20 and 22 ˚C for steady drying but if you decide to dry out your property naturally instead keep doors and windows open as much as possible. If you have any suspicion that drinking water has been contaminated (water running an unusual colour/tasting different) contact a
Watersafe plumber straight away. They will be able to inspect your drinking water and, in some cases, take a sample for analysis and disinfect the water system inside your property.
*Remember that in the event of a flood, emergency services will be busy and can only help where life is in danger. In an emergency dial 999 and for up to the minute information on flooding in your local area call the Environment Agency Flood Line on 0845 988 1188.


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