Flooding

The Complete Guide to Floods

Once called “once in a thousand year” events, flooding in the UK is quickly becoming quite common. While responsibility for what is causing the common occurrence of flooding varies between warmer winters generating higher levels of precipitation and councils not properly considering floodplains when granting planning permission for new builds, the reality in Britain today is that flooding can happen anywhere and at any time of the year.

That’s why almost everyone should have a plan in place for the event of flooding. Flooding can have disastrous consequences for your home, and not being adequately prepared, whether with tools or simple knowledge, can make the consequences all the more dire.

So what should you do in the event of a flood? How can you prevent flood damage? And what are the best tools for cleaning up flood water? Here we list all our advice for flooding along with the essential tools for cleaning up flood damage.

Are you at risk of flooding?

Concerned about the possibility of being at a flood risk? Luckily if you are worried about flooding there are several interactive, government and council alert services that can give you basic information regarding your flood risk.

For immediate flood risk information you can check your location using this government tool here: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings#flood-alerts

For information regarding your county flood risk over the next 5 days you can check another government service here: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/5-day-flood-risk

For information regarding your general flood risk you can use another government service here: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk

For an interactive visualisation you can use Shoothill’s service here: http://www.checkmyfloodrisk.co.uk/

Remember that even if flooding doesn’t directly threaten your location you may still be affected by cuts to transport, power and communication networks. Don’t just check your postcode. Check surrounding postcodes too. Just because your home isn’t directly threatened by floods doesn’t mean that neighbouring homes and streets are unaffected. Flooding to neighbouring streets may restrict your access to basic or emergency services.

What to Do During a Flood?

Unfortunately, even when you’re fully prepared, flooding may just be inevitable. Water rises and even the best flood defences can succumb to the power of nature. So what do you do during a flood? Well, the first thing to remember is that it’s critical you put people before property. Ensure you have co-operated with the emergency services before following this advice. If you are instructed to evacuate your home, evacuate immediately.

If safe to do so, ensure that you turn off gas, electricity and water supplies before flood water enters your home.

  • Secure yourself a clean source of water by gathering water in jugs, saucepans and the bathtub.
  • Gather torches, waterproofs, a first aid kit and any medication you need and move these items to a safe and high area
  • Move family, pets and any essential belongings upstairs or to a high place. It’s important you have a plan and a means for escape.
  • Remember that water and electricity do not mix. Do not touch any source of electricity while stood in water.
  • Keep listening to local radio for updates or call the Environment Agency Floodline on 0845 988 1188
  • Call 999 if you are in danger

How to Prevent Flood Damage

With an estimated bill of one billion pounds generated by flooding in the UK each year it’s never been more essential to ensure your home is protected from flood damage.

It’s not just the potential costs that make flood protection so important, on the more severe level floods can kill and at the less severe, but still highly important, you have the loss of precious memories.

Nobody, not even Chuck Norris himself, can control the weather so it’s not a foolproof plan to believe you can simply prevent flooding. However, there are precautions you can take to prevent or minimise the damage it can cause.

1. Plan Ahead

In a recent survey of people living in areas with a direct flood threat only 50% were aware that there home was at risk. Out of the 50% who knew they were at risk of a flood threat, only 60% had a plan in place for preventing flood damage. The first step is to be aware of how often you may face a flood risk and set up the necessary alerts to ensure you are aware of possible flooding.

2. Determine the Grading of Your Home

Most homes are built with the purpose of draining water away from the structure. Whether a new or old build, it’s worth checking the water flow of your home. This involves simply watching how water accumulates during an average rainstorm. Does it flow away from your home, towards your home or does it pool and stand easily? If you live in an area where standing water is fairly common you may want to talk to your council. If your house is in particular danger they have a responsibility to minimise danger.

3. Blocking Water Out

It may be impossible to keep all the water out of your home, but you can at least reduce the amount that gets in. Sandbags are a good start but also consider drains and ensure sinks and bathtubs are plugged up to stop water entering through these holes.

4. Move Objects

When flood warnings are raised, move as many of your positions out the flood’s path. Electronics, furniture, and anything else that is moveable and may be vulnerable to water damage should be moved upstairs. This may seem like an obvious solution, but when the waters start to rise, it can be difficult to move items quickly; therefore it is essential to be prepared. This is a very simple, easy way to prevent significant and costly damage to your possessions.

5. Invest in a Submersible Pump

Let’s say you live in an area at high risk of flooding, one of the best pieces of equipment that you can own is a submersible pump. If floodwater gets into your home, you should try and remove the water as quickly as possible. They can be useful in the event of a clean-up too and if you do flood you may minimise damage by pumping out water when it comes in.

What is a Submersible Pump?

As the name suggest submersible pumps are capable of operating under water. Often used for the drainage of ponds, swimming pools and drainage systems, they can also be used in the event of flooding.

Just in case you were wondering, yes, the device is hermetically sealed and the motor is close coupled to the body of the pump. This ensures that water cannot enter the internals of the pump and come into contact with electrical components. As I’m sure you aware, electricity and water should not be mixed and only an approved submersible pump from a quality pump dealer should be under water.

How Does a Submersible Work?

While this explanation is on the technical side, it’s worth knowing. Simply a submersible pump pushes water to the surface by pulling water into the pump through the intake, when inside the rotation of the impeller pushes the water through a diffuser. The water is then pumped to the surface.

The great thing about submersible pumps is that there is a variety of pumps designed for different uses. For example, a pump used to drain water from a basement will come with a float switch. This ensures that the pump comes into operation when the water reaches a certain level and stops working before the water runs dry.

Using a Submersible Pump for Flood Clearance

If you need a portable pump to clear flood water other factors come into play. It needs to have a filter to prevent it being blocked by debris; in addition, you need to take into account the length of hose so that you can safely discharge water away from the property and the length of the power cable to ensure you can safely run the pump from a dry electrical supply. Ensure the supply is protected by an ECB for safety.

To avoid confusion when purchasing a submersible pump for a flooding event, we advise that you purchase a purpose built flood kit. Grundfos Unilift B-CC7 Multi-Box Submersible Drainage Set for example is the ideal pump for a flooding event as you get the a suitable pump type, a multi-functional filter box, a 15 m discharge hose and an additional CC connector that fits several sizes of hoses.

It is important to note that flooding is severe and affects house electricity. In the event that power is cut during a flood, you will need to ensure you have a petrol driven generator to hand. With this in mind, particularly in badly flooded areas, there is no where to pump the water too and it will just come back into the property as drains are usually blocked. Consider carefully how you pump the water and where you pump it too.

How to Clean Up Flood water

Water in your home can range from minor inconvenience to complete disaster. Where you land on this spectrum will depend entirely on how much water gets into your home and how long it remains in your home. If time is on your side, the best case scenario is a few damaged possessions, and the worst you’re looking at structural damage. Remember, the longer you leave water in your home the more chance you create the perfect breeding ground for mold. It’s important to remove mold quickly as it can lead to respiratory problems including asthma and potentially severe illness.

If water does enter your home here is your checklist to minimise damage and remove water quickly and safely.

1. Disconnect the Power

Electricity and water do not mix. Do stand in water or attempt to clear water with the power connected. After the power is connected then remove electrical items. Salvage electrical equipment first. You may still be able to dry and save water damaged electrical items if you remove them from water as soon as possible. Follow these tips for drying out technological items by Intel here.

2. Removing the Water

If you’ve followed the above advice you should have disconnected your electricity and removed easy to move items. The next step is getting the water out of your home. The manual method using a bucket is effective but also energy sapping and time consuming. As mentioned earlier in this article, it is critical that you remove water as soon as possible to prevent extensive damage.

The quickest way to remove flood water from your home is to invest in a submersible pump. The pumps quickly intake water and eject it using an impeller system. If you purchase a dedicated flood kit you will also be prepared to remove flooding in the quickest time frame. These pumps also come with an electric and manual option.

Getting Rid of Contaminated Items

If you have contaminated furniture or other items polluted by chemicals or sewage during a flood you can contact the environmental health department to have them removed. Contact them here.

3. Dry, Dry, Dry

Just because the water is finally out of your home doesn’t mean its job done. First, open all your windows and allow air to circulate your home. Mop dry as much of the left over water as possible and then use hand towels to hand dry floors and walls. You may have to cut way drywall that was affected by water as it will eventually crumble and you will also want to remove wall paper as it can become the perfect growth area for mold.

4. Disinfect

Flood waters can easily mix with sewage waters from drainage systems or toilets. This unfortunately means that all sorts of nasty bacteria could be lurking in your home. Disinfect all areas affected by flood waters. This will include walls, floors, furniture and any items that sat in flood water.

5. Consider Mold Growth

Your home is finally dry and you may have already moved back in, but you’re not quite finished yet. It’s important to stay vigilant of mold. There are some supermarket products that purposely stop mold and may be worth the investment.

Essential Contact in a Flood

In the event of a flood it’s important that you have all the correct contact information. You may have limited access to the internet during a flood and it’s essential you have access to the correct services at hand. Print out this list and stick it to the back of a cupboard in a safe to access area. As usual, in the event that you or someone you know is in life threatening danger dial 999.

Flood Warnings

If you are likely to experience flooding then it helps to be warned if flooding is imminent. You can register for flood warnings online here.

Floodline

If you’d like to speak to an adviser then you can contact floodline on 0345 988 1188. The service is available 24 hour.

Report a Flooding

In the event of flood via the river or sea you can report the incident via the environment agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. The service is available 24 hour.

Accommodation

If you need temporary accommodation you can contact your local council here.

Electrical or Gas Problem

In the event that you face an electrical hazard you can contact your local electricity company by calling 105

In the event of a gas leak you can contact the National Grid on 0800 111 999

Environmental Hazard

If you need to remove contaminated items from your home you can contact the environmental health department here.


UK Flooding Advice: Do you live in an at risk area?

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Every year we seem to see dozens of stories on the news about homes being flooded across the globe. And it seems to be becoming more and more frequent with climate change marching ever onwards.

Here in the UK, thousands of homes are flooded almost every year, with some people facing having their houses and businesses devastated by water from overflowing rivers and sewers or destructive coastal storms.

Why Does It Happen?

Flooding can occur almost anywhere, even away from water sources such as the sea, rivers or a watercourse.

When there are long periods of heavy rain, drainage systems often cannot cope. Saturated ground cannot absorb more water, so it will not drain away. Drains may become blocked, and the water has nowhere to go.

How Does It Affect People?

In addition to the obvious danger to life and limb, householders face having to replace their beloved possessions. Some are forced to move out of their homes for months on end, while business owners’ livelihoods are put at risk through having to close their shops and warehouses for weeks.

More and more people are being affected, while those most at risk are facing added hardship due to increases in the cost of household insurance. In some cases, they are unable to obtain any form of insurance.

Who Is at Risk?

Anyone, anywhere, can be at risk from flooding. However, there are certain areas which are more at risk than others.

If you are among the five million people in Wales and England who live or work on a floodplain, statistics show that your business or home is more likely to be flooded than it is to be involved in a fire.

In England and Wales, the most likely places to be affected by flooding include Boston and Skegness on the east coast, said to be the place with the greatest danger of flooding in the entire country; the Vale of Clwyd, an area of low-lying ground around the River Clwyd in north-east Wales; Windsor, because of its proximity to the River Thames; the areas of Folkestone and Hythe; and Runnymede and Weybridge, where around 6,500 homes are believed to be in danger of flooding.

Environment Agency

If you want to see whether your home or business is in danger, your first port of call should be the Environment Agency, the government body which has responsibilities relating to the protection and enhancement of the environment.

On its website, you can see if there are any flood warnings in place in the immediate future, sign up for warnings for your area, and check if your property is in a flood risk area.

You can even check your home’s flooding history to see if it has ever been flooded before. This can give you a vital warning if flooding is possible and enable you to take steps to prevent it.

Can I Get Insurance?

One of the first pieces of advice to be given to people living in a flood risk area is to make sure that they have adequate insurance.

If you have a mortgage, you will be required to have buildings insurance, but contents insurance to cover the cost of replacing the contents of your house is just as important, particularly if you live in an area prone to flooding

Adequate insurance will cover you for the cost of repairing your property after a flood, in addition to replacing all of your fixtures and fittings. It will probably also pay for the repair or replacement of any furniture and belongings damaged by water, plus the cost of removing any debris left behind by the water.

What If I Can’t Get Insurance?

Some households and businesses which have been repeatedly flooded over the years may find it very expensive or even impossible to obtain adequate insurance.

Thankfully, the government has recently introduced help for people finding it difficult to get insurance because they live in high-risk areas. The new scheme helps insurance companies offer more affordable insurance to those whose homes and businesses are at high risk.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

There are steps that those of us with a high risk of flooding can take to prevent the worst from happening. Signing up to flood warning alerts, so that you are forewarned before flooding strikes, will help you to prepare if the worst is imminent. In addition, stockpiling sandbags and moving valuables from lower floors can all help to mitigate the effect of flooding if it does happen.

For those living in the worst-hit areas, there are other measures you can take. Submersible pumps are invaluable for use in emergencies; they can even be bought as part of emergency flood kits, which contain essential equipment and accessories to help you minimise the damage any flood does. They will help you to remove any excess water as soon as possible, ensuring that it has less potential to damage your property.

Whether you’re in a high-risk area or not, you should make flood prevention and planning as much a part of your routine as fire prevention and escape.

Protect Your Business From Flooding Damage this Winter

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The last couple of winters have seen the UK hit by a series of powerful storms and floods – so much so that the Met Office decided to adopt the American tradition of giving each storm a human name to increase awareness and preparedness. Giving a storm an approachable name like ‘Frank’ or ‘Imogen’ doesn’t reduce the devastation and destruction that they leave in their wake, though.

The Catastrophic Effects of Flood Damage

The winter of 2015-16 was one of the wettest ever recorded, with Storm Desmond submerging much of the north of England and causing over £5 billion of damage. Insurance covers some of the damage, but experts have commented that many insurance policies are simply inadequate for covering the full extent of the loss, leading to bankruptcy for many households and businesses.

Businesses Face Unique Challenges

For those businesses affected by flooding but blessed with sufficient insurance coverage, this coverage is unlikely to last longer than a standard 12-month period of business interruption. This is a serious additional problem, because those companies suffering the effects of flooding generally take longer than this to return to pre-flood levels of profitability and turnover.

This is due firstly to the drop-off in local custom after flooding damage, caused by the local population experiencing high levels of stress and uncertainty on a household basis. Recovery is secondly hindered by the average of nine months necessary for remedial work to take place before people or business can return to flooded properties.

Who Is at Risk?

The true extent of the risk posed by flooding should not be underestimated, and this applies both those who have been flooded before and those who are lucky enough to remain unscathed. Since 1998, the UK has been hit by at least one serious flood every single year. To make matters worse, the Environmental Agency estimates that 5.5 million properties in England are at risk of flooding – around one in six.

The risk of flooding is so acute that, as a result of tight building safety regulations, businesses are now more likely to suffer flood damage than be destroyed by fire. Fires can be controlled by regulations, but floods cannot be regulated out of existence. After the last flood, the government pledged an increase in flood defence funding across the board, which should be welcomed, but flooding is ultimately a natural process that can never be eliminated beyond all doubt.

What Can Business Owners Do to Reduce These Risks?

If your company was unlucky enough to have been affected by flooding previously, now is the time to draw up proper plans to prepare yourself for the next possible bout of extreme weather. Unlike lightning, flooding can strike twice, so it’s important to act while there’s still time.

Draw up a flood plan outlining your response in case of flooding, and consider any changes you could make to the building to improve your defences, such as storing valuable stock on the first floor and raising the height of electricity outlets. It’s impossible to completely flood-proof your premises, so investing in submersible water pumps to help you respond to floodwater quickly before the damage is done can be a good idea. The priority is to minimise downtime and lost potential earnings.

For businesses fortunate enough to have avoided flood damage so far, try to avoid becoming complacent. Contractors can provide flood risk assessments to analyse and predict the risk posed by flooding to a site for up to 50 years into the future. Subscribe to the Environment Agency’s flood alerts to keep ahead of the game in the short term.

Flood Defense Equipment

Keeping an eye on flood alerts is crucial, but you need to be able to act when you receive an alert. If you’re found to be at risk of flooding, then stock up on sandbags. Modern sand bags contain a polymer gel, which is much lighter and far more effective than sand. When a flood alert comes through, these should be placed around all of the thresholds on the premises.

A number of other temporary and permanent flood defences are available. If you can modify your building, then self-closing pipes and air bricks are a clever way to prevent floodwater ingress whilst keeping the structure ventilated for the remainder of the year. Submersible pumps are useful tools for removing floodwater quickly and effectively.

Take a look at the range of emergency flood kits stocked on our website, and investigate how they could help you to minimise flood damage and stock spoilage.

Autumn tips for getting your home and garden ‘Winter ready’

 

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It’s official. Climate change is here and with it a devastating change in our weather patterns. The outlook for winter 2016/2017 is already bleak, with raging storms and flooding predicted between December and February.

So what precautions can you take now to get your home ready for another winter battering? Even if the weather is currently mild, it pays to be prepared!

Clean Your Gutters

Guttering is the first line of defence in carrying water away from your home. If gutters become dammed by debris, they can cause damp problems for your home as water breaches the exterior fabric. A few hours spent cleaning your gutters and drainpipes now can avoid costly damage later.

Damn the Air Leaks

Doors, windows and letter boxes are major sources of energy loss in the average home. By letting warm air escape, you’re expecting your boiler to work harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

Seal leaks with silicone where applicable, and fit insulation strips round windows and doors.

Get Your Boiler Serviced

Winter is the season when you most rely on your boiler, so it makes sense to have it fully serviced before the worst weather arrives. This will ensure that it’s running at optimum capacity, passing energy savings to you and keeping your house warm and cosy as the storms rage outside.

Fit a Hot Water Circulating Pump

Consider fitting a low-energy Hot Water Circulating pump that ensures you have hot water on demand when you need it in the winter.

Many models can be easily fitted by a competent DIYer and are low-energy, saving on electricity and water costs as you no longer have to run the tap waiting for the hot water to arrive.

Consider a Wood-Burner

More and more people are going ‘off-grid’ for their energy needs, but this doesn’t mean that you have to replace all your heating and water with renewables. A wood-burner can simply be used to supplement your home’s existing heating.

If you do decide to take it further, the right wood-burner can be integrated into your existing heating system with minimal fuss. And they make an attractive feature in their own right, being far more energy-efficient than an open fire.

If you don’t want to lose an open fireplace, consider blocking off the chimney instead. You won’t be able to use your fireplace except ornamentally, but you’ll prevent major heat loss.

Up Your Lighting Game

Exterior lights are essential in the winter to prevent accidents as the nights draw in. Ensure yours are equipped with low-energy bulbs or, if you’re fitting new, make sure they’re low-energy compliant. Take it one step further and replace those old fairy lights with LED ones.

Be Prepared for Flooding

If flooding has already been an issue in your property, or you’re in a high-risk area, you can fight back and reduce your insurance premiums by being flood ready.

Make a flood defence plan and reinforce the fabric of your home. Sign up for flood alerts and equip yourself with a good submersible pump or even a full-scale flood kit so you’re prepared for the worst the winter can throw at you.

Window Dressing

If you’re installing double glazing, choose the most effective windows you can afford. Good old-fashioned curtains and blinds can also be highly effective at keeping out draughts and preventing heat loss.

If you get good daylight through your windows during the day, leave blinds and curtains drawn to maximise the heat.

Insulate, Insulate and Then Insulate Some More

Proper insulation in the right places will prevent a huge amount of heat loss in your home. According to the NIA The average home loses 66% of its heat through solid walls, 25% through the roof and 20% through windows and doors.

Some energy companies offer free cavity wall and roof insulation, but even if it meets standard requirements, you can always add more roof insulation. You’ve already dealt with leaks in your doors and windows, haven’t you?

Create Windbreaks in Your Garden

Erecting fences or planting hedges around your property can give you valuable windbreaks when the cold winds blow. If you’re prone to snowfall, knock down vulnerable tree branches to prevent damage.

Following these preventative measures, will ensure your home will be kept snug and warm throughout the colder days of winter.

Why you need a submersible pump this flooding season

January can bring increased risk of flooding in many areas of the country. Heavy rains and melting snow can lead to waterlogged ground and swollen rivers, making floods a real worry for many, especially those on flood plains or other areas that are prone to problems. As a householder, it’s best to be prepared for the worst. From submersible pumps to remove excess water to stocking up on sandbags, we share our expert advice when it comes to protecting your home from flood water.

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There are usually advance warnings of floods, so you should have a plan to move the objects you can, such as electronics, furniture and so on, upstairs to keep them safe. Have sandbags on hand to stop water from getting in through doorways, and put plugs in sinks and baths to prevent water coming in via the drains.

If the worst should happen and you do get flooded, then it’s important to remove excess water as quickly as possible. It may therefore be worth investing in a sump pump; the quickest and easiest way to remove water and minimize flood damage.

The latest submersible pumps are designed to be submerged in water – unlike other types where the pump itself has to be kept dry. If you have a cellar or basement, you may already have a pump installed, but it’s also possible to get portable units for use in emergencies for clearing any area of water.

Most pumps will run from a standard mains electrical supply, and they often have a float valve that prevents the pump from running dry. Because you’re using an electrical device in the presence of water, it’s important to make sure that the circuit is protected by an ECB to prevent any accidents.

Submersible pumps come in a range of sizes, so consider which is likely to be best for your needs, taking into account the size of the area likely to be flooded. Pumps will usually have a filter to prevent them from becoming blocked by debris – an important feature when clearing flood water.

When pumping out flood water, you should pay careful attention to where it’s going to go. Make sure the pump discharges to an area where the water will flow away from the house and any neighboring properties.