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As experts predict severe weather conditions and flooding will hit the UK this winter, it is naturally a concerning time for home and business owners, especially those based in higher risk areas. Preparation is key to minimising damage caused by flooding and subsequent disruption to your home, livelihood and business operations. Therefore, if your property resides in an area that is particularly vulnerable to harsh weather and flooding it is advisable to have a plan in place.
Preparing for wet weather
The impact of flooding on families, schools and businesses, and the communities in which they serve can be devastating, so it is imperative that you have a contingency plan for when severe weather is forecast.
Often when wet weather and flooding are forecast or flash flooding occurs, there is limited time available to prepare to move items, put barriers in place and plan what you’ll do should you need to leave your property. Start by making a list of important actions for emergency situations so that should the time come, you will feel more in control and have the ability to focus on what must be done quickly and efficiently.
Consider where your valuables and sentimental items can be safely and securely placed in order to avoid damage or loss, and also where you can move furniture to so that you don’t have to deal with costly replacements in the short-term if your home or business does get hit.
Safety is the number one priority when preparing for potential flooding – it is crucial that everyone living in the household or working in your office knows the plan if the building becomes unsafe or potentially uninhabitable. The UK government recommends that in the event of a flood, you should also have a pre-prepared kit of essential items that you may need should you have to leave your property, such as dry warm clothing, high visibility clothing for those more vulnerable, a torch, mobile phone with contact details saved and money. To download the governments’ full personal flood plan, please click here.
Sandbags can be used to temporarily halt flooding, but as a home or business owner, it is your responsibility to have these filled and to hand should a flooding emergency occur. If you run a business and have employees working on site, you have a duty of care to ensure that they are working in a safe environment, which means that you are legally obliged to dispose of any hazardous waste post flooding as this must be done carefully and considerately by professionals.
How are the authorities and water companies working to prevent flooding?
It’s no secret that in recent years, some cities and towns in the UK have repeatedly suffered from dire flooding situations. With limited resources available, it is worth noting for personal circumstances that the authorities will offer resources firstly to hard hit public areas, so protecting your personal property is crucial.
Areas with rivers and large open spaces of water are often particularly susceptible to flooding, which includes a number of counties throughout the South East where we sadly see flooding disrupt daily life during the colder months. As previously reported, the Environment agency pledged to implement a £17m flood defence scheme to help protect the seaside town of Newhaven in East Sussex, which was at high risk of flooding due to its picturesque location next to the sea and River Ouse. In the past six months there have also been a number of reports of flash flooding causing major travel disruption to commuters with landslips and flooded tracks as well as a derailment on London Midland’s train service.
A recent report by Water UK about 21st Century Drainage has been published to encourage positive actions between communities, local authorities and water companies to tackle flooding. The report aims to begin conversations around how businesses can also collaborate to minimise the risks of flooding. Sustainable drainage systems that reduce the insertion of harmful products into sewage systems and ensure strong and safe plumbing are additional areas of interest to the programme that aims to create a safer and lower risk environment for all.
Progress is already being made, however Chair of the Water UK 21st Century Drainage Programme Board, Tony Harrington, also recognises continual investment into protecting the environment is key.
While work is ongoing to reduce flood risks, in recent years, the Met office has been able to take advantage of developments in technology for weather predicting purposes, meaning that they will continuously be able to offer a more accurate and timely weather forecast, helping those who may be hit the hardest plan for any issues.
What should I do if my home or business has been affected by flooding?
Firstly, don’t forget that safety should be the number one priority. Inform your insurance company at the first possible opportunity, and ensure that you do not touch any electrical items that may have become damaged and are hazardous, as they can cause electrocution.
Though the water may seem harmless, it is also important to remember that it contains bacteria and can therefore be quite harmful to your health. This is why it is important to seek professional advice from experts when undertaking a clear up. Don’t forget it isn’t just humans who can be harmed by flood water – pets and livestock can also be affected by water borne diseases which may be present in water that has become filled with sewage, leaving it dangerous and contaminated. If you think an animal may have consumed flood water, contact a vet as soon as possible, and if you are in a high risk flood area, ensure that pets have the relevant vaccinations and care to mitigate risk of illness.