Floods: what you can do to lessen the damage

The damage caused by flash flooding and storms can be devastating. RSA's and MORE TH>N's experts share their top tips for home and business owners facing potential flooding or starting the recovery process

Preparing for possible flooding

  • Listen out for flood warnings on your local TV and radio stations. The Environment Agency has a 24-hour information service called Floodline available on 0845 988 1188. 
  • Keep your insurance policy documents in a water-tight bag in a safe place and keep a note of your insurer's helpline number handy. 
  • Prepare a 'Flood Pack' and make sure that everyone in your home or business knows where it is. The pack should include: a torch, battery-operated radio (with spare batteries), a first aid kit, warm clothes, blankets and bottles of water. Keep it in a safe place. 
  • Agree in advance where members of your family or employees could go and how to stay in touch in case your property has to be evacuated. 
  • If you have one, remember to take your mobile phone upstairs and keep it charged. 
  • Have sandbags at the ready - your local council may be able to provide these - and boards ready to block doors. 
  • Consider moving any cars to higher ground. 
  • If you have pets, keep them pet safe. Flood water can contain sewage which in some cases can be fatal to your cat or dog. 
  • Be prepared to move furniture and valuable items upstairs or to a safe place, out of danger. Remember to include items like photos and valuable paperwork that have high sentimental value and will be difficult to replace.
  • If you have time, roll up carpets and rugs and put them in a safe place. Take down curtains or lift them over rods to keep them away from any floodwater.
  • If you receive warnings of imminent flooding, be ready to switch off gas and electricity supplies but listen for advice on your local radio station. If water levels start to enter your home or business, turn off the gas and the electricity at the main fuse board.
  • Have a map of your local area handy. If you decide to evacuate, remember that some local roads may already be blocked and impassable. Do not attempt to drive across flooded roads.
  • If your home or business is flooded, contact your insurance company as soon as possible.


Flood advice

  • Do not touch the electrics. 
  • Once the flood water has started to recede, if the weather allows open all windows during the day – the air outside the house will be less moist than that inside, so it helps to dry out the house. By mid-afternoon, the air outside will be moist, so close your windows and put your heating back on. 
  • Although you will instinctively want to dry items as quickly as possible, do not expose them to extremes level of heat as this could result in further damage. 
  • When salvaging photographs/valuable paperwork, remove excess water and keep tightly together. Leave to dry naturally. Using a de-humidifier (your insurer should provide one) leave it running for in very affected room. 
  • Fridges and freezers should be cleaned out as soon as possible and any food thrown away. If you have the relevant insurance cover, remember to keep a list of food items for your claim and, if possible, take a photograph. 
  • Store damaged furniture and fittings in a dry place, they may have a salvage value or could be repairable. Either way they will need to be inspected. 
  • Remove all soaked rubber –backed carpets and leave them in the garden as these will have to be replaced. Leave hessian-backed carpets on the floor to dry, as they will shrink if lifted. Once they are dry, the carpets can be lifted to dry the areas underneath. 
  • Once the flood water has receded, remember it may be contaminated. Be careful what you touch and look out for signs of pollution. 
  • Do not attempt to redecorate straight away, it may take months for a property to dry out properly. Your insurer will be able to advise on this. It is important to check with a decorator or other experts to ensure that the walls and other surfaces are fully dried out and, if necessary, treated to prevent mould. 

After the flood: the recovery process

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