Preparing for a flood
Follow these steps if you think that you might be at risk of flooding:
Make sure you know how to turn off gas, electricity and water
If you have any doubts about how to turn off your gas, water or electricity, you should ask your supplier for advice. Consider marking which taps and switches to turn off with stickers – this makes it easier to remember and quicker to do.
Check your home insurance
Check your buildings and contents insurance policy to:
- confirm you are covered for flooding
- find out if damaged belongings will be replaced with new ones (‘new for old’ policy)
If you live in rented accommodation, contact your landlord to find out about the insurance cover for your flat or house.
Get flood protection
If you are in a high risk area, consider buying special ‘flood protection’ products which can help stop flooding damage to your home and belongings. These products help by:
- preventing water from entering your property
- slowing down the rate at which water enters your property
- reducing damage to walls, floors and fixtures and fittings
- making the clean-up process easier and faster
You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to put these products in place when at risk of flooding.
- sandbags - the Parish may make sandbags available 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, or alternatively use pillowcases and plastic bags filled with earth
- floodboards - floodboards fix to frames around windows and doors. 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. Remember to remove the plastic covers once the area is no longer flooded
Move your valuable belongings
If you are at immediate risk of flooding, make sure you move treasured possessions to safety. You could do this by moving items like furniture to a higher floor of your home or electrical equipment into the loft. You could also leave belongings like pets or your car with someone who isn’t at risk of flooding.
Clearing up after a flood
Before you start to clear up you should:
- find out if it's safe to return to your property
- speak to your insurance company to find out if they will organise for professional cleaners to clean up your home
If you have been evacuated because of flooding, you’ll be told when it is safe to return home.
Check your electricity supply and electrical appliances
- check that the electricity supply has been switched off at the mains
- if you aren’t sure the electricity is turned off, get a qualified person to do this
- don’t touch sources of electricity while standing in floodwater
- get any electrical appliances that have come into contact with floodwater checked by a qualified electrician before using them again
Protecting yourself while cleaning up
Make sure you wear protective clothing when you clean up following a flood. Floodwater can be contaminated with sewage, chemicals and animal waste, so you’ll need to disinfect anything that comes into contact with it.
You should always:
- wear protective clothing, like a waterproof jacket and trousers and rubber gloves
- use a face mask
- wash your hands with disinfectant if you have been in contact with floodwater or mud, or handled items that have been in contact with floodwater
- make sure any open cuts or wounds on exposed skin are covered by a waterproof plaster
Getting rid of floodwater
Once the water levels are lower outside than inside your property, you can begin to get rid of the water using a pump or bucket. You can hire or buy a pump and generator from a DIY shop. Make sure you put the generator outside, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust.
Cleaning surfaces in your home
You will need to do an initial clean and follow this by disinfecting all surfaces that have come into contact with the floodwater.
Contaminated clothing and bedding will need to be washed at a high temperature.
You can use your central heating to help dry out the house once the heating system has been checked by a qualified engineer. You can speed up the drying process by keeping the building well ventilated by opening as many windows and doors as possible and using a fan. However, if you use a dehumidifier to remove water from the air in your home, you will need to keep external doors and windows shut.