Pink umbrella in grey and wet backdrop

Be Flood Ready!

Flood Awareness & Resilience champion, Mary Long-Dhonau OBE, offers advice on what you should do to be ‘flood ready’ ahead of any exceptionally wet weather events – such as Storm Babet, which arrived in the UK during October: 

“Having experienced flooding first-hand, I have created a handy pre-winter check-list, which offers some simple tips on the steps that can be taken to make sure you’re as prepared as possible as the weather turns wetter. While it is not an exhaustive list, it may help in thinking ahead before any floods occur.

Conduct a walk-about:

Every year, as the ‘rainy’ season approaches, I always take a walk around the outside of my house to make sure that all the brick work is in good order with no lose mortar. Flood water will find its way into any vulnerable gaps, such as a wobbly drainage pipe gap or around utility service wires, so check these.

I also make sure that any channel drains are cleared of fallen leaves and debris and also check any other drain that is located outside of my home has no blockages. Hard paving leaves floodwater nowhere to go, so if you do have it, perhaps think about removing a few slabs at regular intervals and planting a few water thirsty small shrubs in their place.

On top of this, I always make sure that gutters are free of any leaves that may have gathered during the autumn drop.

Finally familiarise yourself with how you turn off your gas, electricity and water supplies, in the event of a flood emergency.

Plan Ahead:

Firstly, I urge everyone to keep informed and sign up for the Environment Agency’s Flood Warning. The free service will send you flood warnings if your home or business in England is at risk of flooding:

Secondly, be prepared by creating a household plan so when the flood comes, you know exactly what to do. For example, think about the needs of children, babies, elderly and disabled living at home and your also your pets.

If you don’t store your documents in ‘the cloud’ make sure, computer data and photographs are backed up and stored safely. There will be some items that cannot be replaced: family photographs, sentimental pieces or children’s drawings – keep them somewhere where they will be safe – or move them in good time.

Also, consider where you can move your car so it isn’t affected by flood waters.

Create an emergency flood kit ‘grab bag’, containing emergency medication, torches, spare clothes, first aid kit, important documents, and also the means to keep warm.

Keep a list of useful telephone numbers (including your GP details, insurance claim line & policy number) to hand, and make sure they are also stored on your mobile phone.

A useful guide on how to create a household emergency plan is available to access for free here:

Check Your Cover

Do you know if you have the correct insurance cover in place? Check your buildings and contents or business policy with your insurance company to be certain. Take detailed photos of your property and contents now, before any flood occurs. And be sure to keep you policy details safe – whether in your emergency grab bag, but also on email or in the cloud.

Flood Resilience Measures

Have you ever considered how are can prevent water from entering your property? There is a wide array of property-level flood resilience products that can be used to help minimise the risk of flood water entering your home, or steps that can be taken so if water does enter, it is easier and quicker to dry out and repair.

Installing flood resilience measures will ultimately enable recovery to happen in just a matter of days instead of months, should a significant flood occur.

More information on what fully-tested, Kite-marked products are available in this free Householders Guide to Flood Resilience:

Before a Flood Occurs

If you receive a warning that flooding is imminent, there are some immediate actions I recommend you take. The first is to empty your water butt; this will allow run off from your roof to go in there and not into the drains.

Secondly, move your car to higher ground if it is safe to do so and, finally, put your household flood plan into action.

Stay Safe During a Flood

During a flood remember the most important thing you can do during a flood is to stay safe. Always remember that:

  • Six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over
  • Two feet of water will float your car
  • Flooding can cause manhole covers to come off, leaving hidden dangers
  • Do not walk or drive through flood water, as there will be many hidden hazards, the water may be too deep to drive through and you may well face an insurance claim for your car
  • Do not let children play in flood water as it can often be contaminated waters
  • Do not walk on sea defences or riverbanks
  • When water levels are high be aware that bridges may be dangerous to walk or drive over
  • Culverts are dangerous when flooded
  • Look out for other hazards such as fallen power lines and trees
  • Wash your hands thoroughly if you touch floodwater as it will be contaminated.

After a Flood

While you may be tempted to return to your home following a flood, wait until you have been told it is safe to do so by the emergency services. I would urge you to contact your insurance company as soon as possible; many have 24-hour help lines during a flood and should be able to support you.

I also recommend you do the following post- flood:

  • Take photos and a video of the damage, this includes the contents of fridge and freezer, with your mobile phone or buy a disposable camera
  • Mark a line on the wall as to where the water came up to
  • Wear gloves when touching anything that is wet as it may well be contaminated
  • Cut a piece of your carpet and save it for the loss adjuster and then try to remove carpets into the garden but do not throw it away. Carpets hold water into the property and wet heavy items inhibit the drying process
  • Once carpets are outside, try to keep your windows and doors open to aid ventilation but remember to lock-up every time you leave to avoid any unscrupulous thieves from taking advantage

I’ve written a guide on Flood Recovery, which is available to view here:

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