Flooding has once again been in the news after the people of Houston and Florida were besieged by hurricanes, which left entire streets and towns submerged, causing billions of dollars in damages, as well as claiming more than 60 lives.
In the UK, it’s unlikely that we will fall victim to a hurricane, but floods can be caused by torrential rainfall and burst pipes alike. No matter what the cause of the flooding, the most important thing is that you know how to prepare for such an eventuality, which this article is going to detail.
Before a flood
Certain areas are more susceptible to flooding than others, and through property surveys and insurance policies you should already know this if you live in one of these places. Home and contents insurance is often more expensive in these areas to account for the increased risk. Additionally, flood risk maps are available for those who are unsure about their area’s propensity for flooding.
As with most facets of modern day society, smart devices come in extremely handy. You can sign up for flood warnings, a service available via the Government’s website, which provides notifications via email, texts or phone calls, and they don’t cost a penny.
We touched on home insurance above, but it’s worthwhile reiterating that it’s crucial you have a good home and contents insurance policy in place, particularly if you live in a high-risk flood area. Floods can cause huge amounts of damage to homes, and it’s very important that you’re adequately covered for this eventuality. Clarify any parts you’re confused about with your insurance company – it’s much easier to do this before a flood than after.
Consider moving valuable items upstairs or on high shelving – this will reduce the risk of them being damaged in the event of a flood. You can also place valuables in sealed bags – some are big enough to cover large possessions, like sofas and electrical goods.
A flood plan is particularly useful for businesses; making sure your staff are aware of the protocols required in the event of a flood. This will help minimise confusion and panic during an emergency. Flood planning might not be so important for homes, but everyone should know what to do in case your home does get flooded. If you know of impending trouble, packing an emergency bag containing food, clean clothes, water, chargers and a torch can prove a lifesaver in the face of severe flooding situations. Even if you prepare a few sandbags at your door, this can provide a worthwhile line of defence against flood water.
During a flood
If you find yourself in the midst of a flood, for instance, flash floods, it can be difficult to think straight and remain calm. Fortunately, in the UK at least, we are often aware of the likelihood of a storm turning to flooding before it happens, and it’s rare that we suddenly find ourselves waist deep in water in our living rooms. When media outlets report the risk of heavy rain and flooding, consider turning off your utilities at the mains – this means everything from electricity to gas and water.
The next step is to report the flooding to the relevant authority, including any problems that the flooding has caused. For example, sewage leaks may happen in the event of a flood, which can pose serious hygiene risks to those who are exposed to it. Report any electrical hazards to your electricity company, too.
For the most severe flooding, the fire brigade might be able to pump the water out of your property, and your local council can help with emergency accommodation if your home is inhabitable.
We have a list of practical steps you can try yourself to try and stem the excess water from doing more damage.
After a flood
There are several things that you’ll need to do when returning to your property after a flood. The first step actually comes before you’ve returned – check your property is actually safe enough to return to. Check for structural damage and make sure to contact utilities companies if you think there may be damage to your pipes, sewers, electricity and gas lines.
Take pictures of your property before embarking on any repairs. This is important for keeping records of the damage to show insurance companies – if possible, take digital photos, and back them up in the cloud or on a hard drive, so they’re less susceptible should flooding strike again.
Call your insurance company
Contact your insurance company as soon as you can after the flood – be mindful that lots of people in your area will likely be trying to contact their insurance provider, too, so lines could be busy. They will need to know the cause of the flood, the extent of your coverage and the repairs required. Before you undertake any repairs yourself, check with your insurer to see if they’d like you to wait for a visit from an adjuster. A loss adjuster is an individual who investigates and assesses complex insurance claims on behalf of the insurance company. They are impartial, so they are not trying to catch you out – their job is to assess and determine the cause of any loss and whether or not this loss is covered under your insurance policy.
If you’ve got permission from your insurer, you can start to take steps to remove the water from your home. This could be through your own methods, or you can contact the water authority, a drainage company, or the fire brigade. Keep in mind that the fire brigade might be very busy dealing with the aftermath of flooding!
Secure the property
Protect your home against further damage. This could include boarding broken windows or placing protective materials such as tarpaulin over broken roofs. Whatever actions you take, again make sure to take photographs to document it.
As you can see, there’s a litany of steps that you can and should take before, during and after a flood. Flooding can be scary and confusing, but by following the above steps as best you can, you can help reduce the severity of the consequences of the situation.
Express Drainage Solutions are proud to provide a wide range of drainage services for customers in the domestic and commercial markets, including flood response. For more information about what we do, please feel free to get in touch with us today and we’ll be more than happy to help.