Anyone who has been at the mercy of flooding will know the sheer devastation it causes, both structurally, and mentally. With the weather this September forecasting severe gales and unusually high downpours, anyone who is at risk of flooding faces an uncertain future and possibly thousands of pounds worth of damage. Not to mention the stress and anxiety that having your prized possessions ruined can cause to your well being. For the end of this month the Met Office has predicted gale force winds, heavy rain and floods throughout the UK, and to further add to the misery, the Environment agency has issued 120 flood alerts requiring immediate action across the South West, Midland and North East of England. So if you are one of the unfortunate ones who live in a flood risk area, what can you do to protect your home?
The first thing to do is to make sure your home insurance is paid and up to date. The worst thing that can happen is the flood damage, but with no recompense or way of putting right the damage that has been caused, you are at risk of losing your home and not getting a fair price if it is still wrecked by flood water. So make sure you are fully paid up and check the small print and terms of the insurance. Next, remember it is always better to try and prevent flood water damage, than to put it right, not just because of the loss of your personal items, but that your home may even become structurally damaged. Far better to be prepared for a flood, rather than go through the hassle of a big clean-up and insurance claim, or even risk losing potentially irreplaceable items.
If the weather has turned and looks potentially like there could be a risk of flooding, keep yourself up to date with the latest weather and flood warnings. You can do this easily by either checking the flood alerts on the Environment Agency website or by calling 0845 988 1188. if your home is at a major risk of flooding, you can sign up for Floodline Direct, which is a free service provided by government that will send you a message when there is a flood risk that may affect your property. These warnings can be sent via phone call, text message, email or fax. Next, get together a ‘flood pack’, which includes any useful or emergency phone numbers you may need. This could be your neighbours, friends or family, your utility company, your local authority, including fire and police and your home and car insurance providers.
Have a flood proofing strategy in place, so that if you receive a warning or are aware of imminent flood risk, you can start to flood proof your home. Look at points of entry where water can get in and place sandbags to cover them. Think about outside doors, windows and even air-bricks. Now take as many of your personal belongings as possible upstairs, as this is an area which is less likely to be affected by flood damage. Any important documents, such as wills or house deeds, or anything with sentimental value should be placed into water-tight containers. If flooding is imminent, unplug any electrical items, disconnect your downstairs telephone and turn off electricity, gas and water supplies at the mains. Have a flood survival pack that includes food, blankets, water, a torch, radio, fully charged mobile, and a change of clothes.
If your home does become flooded, it is always best to stay in the house unless there is a risk of structural damage. You should never try to swim in fast-flowing water outside your home and if there is a chance that the electricity is still on, you never drop into standing water. Always put safety first as possessions can be replaced.