It has been a long hot summer, but a long and wet winter could be in the offing. What does this mean for your home, and how can you protect it against the worst the British climate can throw at it?
Are you in danger of flooding?
Winter is peak flooding season, but it can actually occur at any time of the year. It can be due to many causes from blocked drains to burst water mains, tidal ingress and burst river banks, although heavy rainfall is often the trigger.
According to the Environment Agency, one in six homes in England and Wales is in danger of being flooded. Unless you live on a hill you could be in the at-risk category, and the risk could be getting worse. Firstly, more extreme weather seems to be occurring more often. Secondly, the pressure for more homes means that many newbuilds are constructed on flood plains. Thirdly, patterns of extremely dry weather, followed by torrential rain means that water will not drain away into the soil.
The first step to understanding the flood risk of a property – either your own or one you are thinking of buying – is to know the flooding history.
If your home is prone to flooding, you can check for current flood warnings in your area by clicking here. For Scotland click here and for Wales click here.
But what can you do to protect your home?
Keeping the water out
You need to keep the water out if you can. Remember, drains and sewers will overflow, and floodwater is often not just water.
Sandbags and plywood barriers over doorways can be effective when it is just a few inches of water. Don’t forget to block airbricks and vents which could let water under your floor.
If flood water is measured in feet rather than inches, there may be little you can do to keep the water out, and your best approach may be to try and minimise the damage it will do.
You need to be prepared. Inside your home, switches, sockets and circuit breakers should be least 30 centimetres above the expected flood level.
Assemble an emergency kit. If flooding is forecast, pack a bag with your essentials. Dry clothes, including waterproof clothing and Wellington boots, blankets, a mobile phone and portable phone charger could all be a big help. Don’t forget a torch, and any medications. Dried food and bottled water would be valuable.
Store it somewhere safe where you can get to it easily, and make sure that everyone in your family knows where it is.
If flood hits, keep calm, cut your electricity off at the circuit breaker and move as much of your furniture, rugs, electronics and other belongings upstairs – or at least raise them above the floor.
Perhaps most important of all, check you have the right household insurance. Would your policy cover repair of your home and replacement of all of your belongings? Will it pay for alternative accommodation if you are unable to live in your home?
If you don’t know the answers, or want a more competitive home insurance quote, get in touch with the Continuum team.
assets.publishing.service.gov.uk – Flooding in England: A National Assessment of Flood Risk – 2009