How to protect your home from flooding
Heavy and prolonged rainfall is forecast across the UK over the coming weeks, so it’s important to make sure your home is protected against floods before the red and amber weather warnings are issued and the flood waters are on the way.
Here’s how to protect your home from flooding, alongside what to do should the worst ever happen.
How to protect your home against flood damage
The worst of the weather is yet to hit, so if you have the time and money, try to prepare your home by doing the following:
- Landscape your garden - The outside areas of your home can also be designed in order to divert water away from the building.
- Build a flood barrier – If your home is in a high-risk area, it could be worth pooling resources with neighbours to build some robust flood defences.
- Replace MDF and chipboard units and skirting boards – Wooden skirting boards, MDF units and chipboard will soak up a lot of water and can be ruined by floods. So, try to replace them with metal, plastic or even varnished solid wood which will absorb less water and dry out sooner.
- Raise your doors – It’s worth considering raising the entrance to your house and raising doors. Alternatively, you could fit quick-release that can be removed and stored so they don’t get ruined by flood water.
- Fit flood boards – These can cost anything from £500 to £3,000 and it will require permanent fixtures which will be permanently visible on your building, but they could prove a great investment.
- Fit one-way no-return valves - To stop water coming into your property add safeguards, such as one-way no-return valves to water outlet pipes.
- Protect your walls - Use renovating lime plaster to re-plaster walls up to one metre above floor level to limit any damp that seeps into the walls.
How to prepare your home for floods
If there’s not much time before the bad weather hits, you should do the following:
- Find out if you’re at risk – Enter your postcode at https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings or register a phone number and email address up for flood warnings at https://www.fws.environment-agency.gov.uk/app/olr/register. You can also call the Environment Agency’s floodline on 0845 988 1188 for up-to-date alerts.
- Make sure your home insurance covers you – Before the floods hit, make sure your buildings and contents insurance are up to date and cover you for flooding. If not, call your insurer to make the necessary changes to your cover – at this point, it may be too late and you may be refused or have to pay a hefty premium, but it’s worth making the call.
- Move your valuables and important items – If your home is at risk, unplug all electrical items and store them on high shelves or, if possible, in an upstairs room. You should also move any valuable and irreplaceable items to an upstairs room, and put any important documents, such as passports, driving licences and insurance policies, into watertight containers.
- Keep a note of useful numbers – If you’re home is hit by flood water, you’ll need to inform your local council and home insurance provider. So, keep a note of your insurer’s emergency helpline and local council numbers to hand. It’s also worth making a note of the numbers for your gas and electricity suppliers.
- Put together an emergency kit – Grab a waterproof container and pack it with all the emergency essentials you’ll need. This includes things like a torch, candles, batteries, radio, a fully-charged mobile phone, waterproof clothing, blankets and a first-aid kit.
- Protect your home against flood damage – Try to flood proof you’re home as much as possible by piling up sandbags against doors and fitting covers to air bricks – these can be expensive, if you can’t afford them use sandbags instead. Weigh down the lids on toilets and put plugs in all sinks. Ultimately, it might be futile, but it’s worth trying everything you can to prevent flood damage.
What to do if your home has been flooded
Although there's nothing you can do to change things once the floods have hit, there are a couple of things you need to know.
- Check all utilities are switched off – Don’t enter your property, or at least not the flooded part of it, until you know the gas and electricity has been switched off. Flooding can cause gas leaks that can be easily ignited, and standing water will quickly conduct electricity. And don’t drink tap water until the authorities tell you it is safe.
- Call your insurance company - Before you start any repair work or employ a contractor to remove heavy debris, check with your insurance company as some may only pay out if you use one of their recommended tradesmen.
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