The Three Part Flood Plan
Your house is more than a bricks-and-mortar shelter; it is your home, it is where you keep all of your most treasured belongings and it holds a very special place in your heart. So what happens when an unpredictable, powerful force of nature threatens your home and all the special memories and cherished possessions it contains? You defend it. You do this by being informed, being prepared and knowing what is best to do and when.
Different parts of the world are faced with different types of natural hazards. Whether or not people in these areas are prepared to deal with what nature throws at them depends on whether or not the events are expected as a matter of course, or they strike unexpectedly as a disastrous freak occurrence. Some people suffer from geological hazards whilst others are victim of their weather and climate. Either way, natural hazards are a threat to people, homes and businesses.
The UK is lucky in that it does not suffer from the large-scale natural disasters other countries do; however, it is not free from all nature-related problems. If you live in a moderate-to-high risk area (and sometimes even if you don't) flood is the sort of hazard you need to protect your home from. Your own safety should always be your top priority but as far as protecting your home goes, there are three main stages of preparation and action. They are as follows:
- Check for any weather or flood warnings on a regular basis and take them seriously. They may not materialise but if they do you will want to know about any threats as far in advance as possible so you can prepare and try to limit the damage.
- Collect any important paperwork (financial documents, insurance policies, etc.) or precious possessions (family photos, treasured belongings, etc.) and take them upstairs or store them at as high a level as possible. Anything in low drawers, cupboards or shelves will get ruined if your house does get flooded and while you may not be able to save everything you can do your best to get the most important things away from risky areas. Remember: floods don't always give you warning so moving things last minute isn't always an option.
- Put any important documents, family photos, purses or wallets (with cash and cards in) into waterproof, preferably air locked containers (like these). Store the containers up high and make sure they are stowed securely so that they are unlikely to fall into floodwater if knocked or jostled.
- Start bottling up drinking water. It may sound a little over the top but if you do get flooded, the likelihood is you will experience problems with your pipes or your tap water will become contaminated by bacteria from sewage and untreated floodwater.
- Store some food in an elevated position. If your house floods then your kitchen will probably flood too, contaminating any food stored at lower levels. You won't be able to eat any of this food and popping to the local shop will be quite the mission in the event of a flood.
- During Flood
- Listen to local authorities and emergency services, whether they are warning you not to drive or giving you an evacuation order.
- Keep checking online or watching the news for updates.
- Stay safe and follow any emergency procedures the local authorities have put in place; they're in place to keep you out of harm's way.
- Make sure your home (or business) is safe to go into. Sometimes flooding can compromise a building's structural integrity and no matter how desperate you are to get in, survey the damage and clear up, it is no reason to risk your safety.
- Once you have established it is safe to go back home or back to work start with the clean-up process. Cleaning after a flood will require a lot of elbow grease regardless but in most cases it is best to enlist the services of a professional, especially considering the experience flood restoration companies have with more difficult flood situations.
- Sort out any utilities and insurance (if applicable) as the longer you wait to start the ball rolling, the longer it will take to make your house feel like home again or get your business back up and running.
- Learn from the experience and start making your own contingency plan. Hopefully any flood experience you have will be a one-off occurrence but should the worst happen and you flood again, you will benefit from having a plan and being able to sort things out more efficiently; every little helps when it comes to limiting flood damage.
Hopefully, having a three stage plan of how to prepare for a flood and manage its aftermath will put your mind a little more at ease when you hear all of the red alerts and stormy skies. However you handle a flood in your home or business, remember to put yours and your family's safety first.