England has always been prone to flooding, however as we’ve seen this Winter, particularly in the North West, new extreme weather patterns caused by climate change are increasing the frequency and severity of the flood risks we face.
Presently 5.2 million people in England and Wales are deemed to be at risk of flooding. But less than 40% of those at significant risk are aware of this.
Understanding whether you may be at risk and the consequences this brings, will help you establish the steps you need to adequately protect your home should the worst happen.
Common Causes of Flooding
Even if you live outside of a designated flood risk there is still the possiblity that you may become the victim of a flood. There are several recognised causes of flooding that can place your home and property at risk.
This occurs when a watercourse is unable to cope with the amount of water draining into it from the surrounding land. This usually happens after excessive rainfall or snow and ice melt. Blockages in water courses and flood channels can also lead to ponding and rising water levels.
Coastal flooding is a result of the combination of high tides and stormy conditions. If low atmospheric pressure coincides with a high tide, a tide surge may happen which can cause serious flooding to nearby properties.
Storms with high winds can also cause tall, powerful waves that can cause significant damage.
Whilst it is possible to forecast this type of flooding with reasonable accuracy, the onset of flooding from the sea and tidal rivers can be sudden and extreme.
Surface Water Flooding
Increasing urbanisation, regeneration of brownfield land and higher density developments are placing urban homes at risk from surface water build up that is unable to drain away adequately.
This often occurs during periods of heavy rainfall when drainage capacity fails to cope with the amount of run off from urban and rural land.
When sewers are overwhelmed by heavy rainfall or become blocked, nearby land and property can become flooded with water contaminated with raw sewage. Rivers may also become polluted by sewer overflows.
Groundwater flooding occurs when water levels in the ground rise above surface levels. This is more likely to happen in areas sitting over areas of permeable rock, also known as aquifers.
The Effects of Flooding
The consequences of flooding are often wide spread and indiscriminate, effecting people, buildings, infrastructure, farmland and wildlife.
If your home is effected it not only brings huge costs in terms of reinstating your home, but health risks from contaminated water that permeates your property.
Far worse than the financial cost is the emotional upset of losing treasured personal possessions, having to deal with the aftermath of a flood and displacement from your home. Not to mention the fear of whether a flood may occur again in the future.
How to reduce the flooding risk
Whilst Government, local authorities and agencies work together to improve infrastructure and create plans for dealing with flooding, there are a number of practical steps you can take to prepare for a flood and protect your possessions.
Am I at risk from flooding?
If you are unsure of whether your property lies in a flood risk area, now is the time to find out. This one piece of information is going to be invaluable in helping you reduce the effects of flooding.
The Environment Agency has a number of interactive flood maps showing the level of flood risk across the UK.
The Government runs a flood warning information service. Simply enter your postcode to find out if any flood warnings are operating in your local area.
The Environment Agency also operates a Floodline that provides helpful information and advice on whether your property is at risk of flooding. Call 0345 988 1188.
Protect property and possessions
If you are within a high risk area, take steps to minimise the amount of damage flood water can cause. This will help reduce the time it takes to clean up, dry out and repair your property so that you can move back home more quickly.
You can help to keep flood water out by installing specially designed flood products:
- For temporary protection, flood doors and purpose built flood boards can be installed only when flooding is imminent.
- As a more permanent measure you can raise door thresholds.
- To protect walls and floors you can raise damp-proof brick courses, or seal floors to prevent water rising through the ground.
- Installing specially designed covers on air bricks helps keep water out.
- Fit non-return valves to drains, water inlet and outlet pipes.
Always check any flood product you purchase to make it has been properly tested – look for the BSI kitemark or equivalent accreditation for the national quality standard PAS1188.
When flood water does enter your property, in the cases of larger floods, you can mitigate against the damage by taking a few sensible precautions.
Keep irreplaceable and valuable items upstairs or on high mounted shelves.
- Fix home entertainment equipment (TVs, music equipment) to the wall at least 1.5 meters above floor level.
- Dry-line walls, use horizontal plasterboard, or lime based plaster. You can also install a special draining system for cavity walls.
- Avoid fitting carpets (which often are damaged and require replacing after a flood). Instead lay tiles and cover with rugs.
- Install synthetic or waxed windows and doors.
- In kitchens and bathrooms avoid chipboard and use water resistant materials (stainless steel, plastic, solid wood) instead. Raise appliances on plinths where possible.
- Raise electrical sockets, fuse boxes, controls and wiring to at least 1.5 metres above floor level.
- If rewiring your house, bring cables down the wall so cabling isn’t affected by flood waters.
Check your insurance policy
Review your buildings and contents insurance policy to see what cover is provided for flood damage.
Take necessary steps to top up cover if required. As well as letting your insurance company know if you’ve undertaken steps to making your property more resilient to flooding. This can often result in a reduction in excess charges or premiums.
Sign up for flood warnings
Get advance warning so that you are prepared and ready to put temporary flood measures in place.
Sign up for the Environment Agency’s Floodline Warnings Direct service for warnings by phone, text or email.
Seek the help of experts
If your home or property is unlucky enough to have suffered flood damage as a result of extreme weather conditions and you need to make a claim, call Tangible Building today.
Tangible Building can help by removing the stress from making a flood damage claim, dealing with your insurers and their representatives on your behalf. We then carry out repairs using our network of building professionals.
We’ll visit your property to carry out a professional assessment of damage and ensure a speedy claims and repairs process to reinstate your home. What’s more, our services will not cost you a penny.
For help and support throughout the flood damage claims and reinstatement process, call Tangible Building on 0800 328 4188.