What to do if you are flooded

Photo Credit: Steven Haywood Caters News Agency

With parts of the UK under flood water over the last weekend, and warnings from the Met Office of more bad weather to come, the chances of more homes flooding are a real possibility. With recent reports from insurance companies that some homes will become uninsurable, what should you do if you become one of the unlucky people whose house is flooded? The key is, so say the Environment Agency, to get as prepared as you possibly can, if you think your home is at risk of flooding. So here’s your guide to protecting yourself from, and dealing with, flooding.

Watch out for any flood warnings. You can register for flood updates from the Environment Agency which is called Floodline. The Environment Agency issues flood risk announcements for England and Wales with three levels of severity: flood alerts (meaning “flooding is possible, be prepared”); flood warnings (“flooding is expected, immediate action required”); and severe flood warnings (“severe flooding, danger to life”). The regions The Environment Agency covers are Anglia, the Midlands, the north-east, the north-west, the south-east, the south-west, and Wales. On its website you can look at specific flood risk locations and view maps. In Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency issues alerts on the same scale.

Photo Credit: Hamish Spence Demotix Corbis

If you hear a flood alert what should you do? Keep your radio on for frequent updates on the severity of the situation. Prepare a flood kit; this should include a torch, warm clothing, preferably waterproof, a first aid kit if you have one, any prescription medicine, bottled water, dry food, and home insurance documents. If you have pets or children or elderly people that you are responsible for, think how you will get them to safety if needed. So get cat or dog baskets ready and wheelchairs by the door. If the flood alert changes to a warning, which means flooding is now expected, you should now turn off your gas and electricity and move family members, including pets, your important and precious items (including other insurance policy documents, birth certificates etc) to a safe position (the highest floor/attic). Once you have done this, try and protect your home. So if you have sandbags ready put them around the doors and entrances. If you don’t have sandbags you can make them by using black bin liners and stuffing them with earth.

Disconnect any appliance that uses water such as washing machines and dish washers and plug water inlet pipes, also put the plugs into sinks and the bath and weigh them down to ensure the water does not come up. If you have time, move electrical goods and any other expensive items upstairs.

If the area is flooded you should be prepare for evacuation. You should be helped by the emergency services and the local authorities. Take with you your mobile phone and any prescription drugs you need. Dry food and water, your insurance documents and identity documents.

If you are able to stay in your house despite it being flooded, remember safety first, and that water and electricity do not mix. If your electricity supply is not switched off, ask a qualified person to deal with this. Never touch sources of electricity while standing in water.

As for insurance, do not throw away damaged items before replacing them as you will need to check with your insurer first to see if you can replace them. If you have had to stay in alternative accommodation keep receipts and use a permanent ink pen to mark how high water has risen in every room. Make a list of what damage has occurred, including food touched by flood water and anything in your fridge and freezer. And don’t forget the clean up charges. Your insurance company may be responsible for paying those too.

Source: The Guardian

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