More properties than ever are at risk of flooding. If your home is among them, it can pay to take steps to protect it and minimise damage.
According to the Environment Agency 5.2 million properties in England - that’s one in six properties - are at risk from flooding from rivers, seas and surface water.
Rising sea levels and more frequent rain storms caused by climate change are only set to exacerbate the problem.
But there’s lots you can do to help protect your property.
You can find out if the area you live in is at long-term risk of flooding by keying in your postcode at:
gov.uk for England
naturalresources.wales for Wales
nidirect.gov.uk for Northern Ireland
You can also check these government sites for live flood warnings, river, sea, groundwater and rainfall levels.
You’ll need to provide your address, plus how you’d like to be contacted any time of the day or night - whether by phone, text or email.
You can also call Floodline 0345 988 1188 - a 24 hour service for flood warning information and general advice.
Photo albums and personal mementoes that can’t be replaced should be moved somewhere safe or upstairs. Don’t wait until a flood is happening to move them as it may be too late or too dangerous.
This should be kept in a safe place and can include things like:
If your home is at risk of flooding there’s lots you can put in place to help protect it and make it more resilient to damage.
Flood protection equipment that can help includes:
These can be fixed to your doors and windows when a flood warning is in place.
These will seal air bricks to prevent water from entering your property.
Check if your local authority has these ready to send out at times of flooding and if they charge for this service. Alternatively, buy your own at DIY or building supply stores.
Visit bluepages.co.uk , an independent directory of property flood protection products and services from the National Flood Forum.
Making a few home improvements could mean less damage and an easier, and cheaper, clean-up too:
In the event of a severe flood warning, there can be danger to life so you’ll need to be prepared to act swiftly and calmly.
When you’re sure it’s safe to return to your home, take care when entering as there may be hidden dangers in floodwater such as sharp objects and sewage pollution.
If your supply hasn’t been switched off at the mains, do not on any account touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water. Get a qualified electrician to come to the property to switch off the power.
In many cases, your insurance company can pay for professional help to clean up your property.
The clean up will usually involve:
According to the Chartered Insurance Institute, the average household flood claim amounts to £50,000.
That’s a staggering amount of money to stump up if you were affected by flooding, so it’s wise to ensure that you take out a home insurance policy to cover your home and contents.
Check how much your policy covers you for flooding, if the policy replaces your items new for old, and if it has a limit on repairs.
You should inform your insurer about flooding as soon as possible.
They’ll let you know whether you should clean the property or if they will send professionals to do that for you.
Many policies also cover the cost of temporary accommodation where you can stay while clean-up and repairs are underway. This could be in a B&B or rented property.
Your insurance provider will send a loss adjuster to your property to inspect the damage and to confirm what repairs and replacements will be covered by your policy.
Keep a record of flood damage for future reference.
Even if you live in an area at risk of flood or have made a flood claim in the past, it should still be possible to get reasonably priced insurance thanks to the Flood Re scheme. Under the scheme, your insurer pays out if you make a valid claim for flood damage, but it can then claim back a proportion of the money from the Flood Re fund. This reduces the insurer’s financial risk, so it can offer you cheaper cover.