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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Preparing for a flood

Flooding can cause widespread damage to your home and belongings. You can reduce flood damage if you plan in advance. Find out how you can prepare for flooding, how to protect your home from flood damage and how to sign up to receive flood warnings.

Planning ahead in case of a flood

Follow these eight steps if you think that you might be at risk of flooding.

1. Check if your area is at risk of flooding

You can find out if you are at risk of flooding in the following ways:

On the Environment Agency’s website

You can enter a postcode to see if the area where you live or work is at risk of flooding.

You can also get up-to-date information about current flood warnings, the river or sea levels in your area and the latest flood risk forecast for your county.

By calling Floodline on 0845 988 1188

You can listen to recorded information on the status of flood warnings in your area or speak to an operator for general flooding information. Floodline is available 24 hours a day. Operators can also provide a ‘quickdial’ number which gives you faster access to recorded information for your area.

2. Sign up for flood warnings

The Environment Agency’s Floodline Warnings Direct is a free 24 hour service which gives flood warnings by phone, text, email, fax or pager.

You can find out how to register with Floodline Warnings Direct by going to the Environment Agency website or calling Floodline on 0845 988 1188

Other ways of getting a flood warning

You can also get the latest flood updates from:

  • local weather, news and travel bulletins
  • BBC Ceefax page 419 and Digital Ceefax page 405
  • the flood section of the Environment Agency website

Sometimes the Environment Agency will also give flood warnings using:

  • sirens – usually with wailing sounds only turned on when a flood is about to happen
  • loud hailers – a vehicle will drive around repeating the flood warnings

You can call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 to find out if sirens and loud hailers are services which operate where you live.

3. Check your home insurance

Check your buildings and contents insurance policy to:

  • make sure you are covered for flooding 
  • find out if damaged belongings will be replaced with new ones (a ‘new for old’ policy) 

If you rent, you can contact your landlord to find out about the insurance cover for your flat or house.

4. Make sure you know how to turn off gas, electricity and water

If you are not sure how to turn off your gas, water or electricity, you should ask your supplier for advice. You can mark which taps and switches to turn off during a flood with stickers to make it easier to remember and quicker to do.

5. Prepare a kit of essential items

The following items, kept together in an easily accessible place, will help you cope in a flood:

  • copies of your home insurance documents
  • a torch with spare batteries - head torches are particularly useful in flood situations when you may need both hands for moving possessions
  • a battery-powered or wind-up radio
  • warm, waterproof clothing and blankets
  • a first aid kit and supplies of any medical prescriptions needed by you or anyone else you live with
  • bottled water and food that won't go off, like tinned or dried food
  • items you may need to look after babies or small children

6. Plan how you will keep in touch during a flood

You, and anyone you live with, should agree how you'll contact each other and where you'll go if you get separated during a flood.

It’s a good idea to ask someone who doesn’t live in a flood area to be your ‘emergency contact’ that you can all check in with.  All household members should keep this person’s contact number with them at all times.

7. Move your valuable belongings

You should move valuable possessions to safety before a flood. You could move things like furniture and electrical equipment to a higher floor of your home. You should also move personal items like photo albums, family films and treasured mementos to a safe place.

You should also think about how you would keep your pets or car safe in a flood. For example, you could ask someone who isn’t at risk of flooding to look after them for you.

8. Get flood protection

You can buy special flood protection products that can help reduce flood damage. These products (like floodboards or airbrick covers) help by:

  • stopping water from getting into your property
  • slowing down the rate at which water enters your property
  • reducing damage to walls, floors, fixtures and fittings
  • making it easier and faster to clean up afterwards

You should choose flood protection products that have been awarded a British Standards Institution (BSI) Kitemark. This means that the products have been tested to a recognised standard.

Floodboards

Floodboards fix to frames around windows and doors to help stop water from getting in. You can wash, store and use these again. 

Plastic covers to seal airbricks

Airbricks are normally found in brick-built homes on external walls near ground level and are designed to allow air to circulate through the building. Plastic covers can stop water coming in through your airbricks in a flood. 

Sandbags

Your council may provide sandbags during a flood to help you protect your home. However, supply could be limited so it’s a good idea to:

  • buy your own sand and bags
  • fill pillowcases and plastic bags with soil

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