While it might not always be possible to eliminate the risks of flooding altogether but many practical steps can be taken to reduce the risk of flood damage and assist with recovery times.
With the bad flooding that we witness in Ireland this winter Allen Removals have complied a flood advice guide that provides simple and practical measures that can be taken to protect your home and personal belongings should your home ever be affected by flooding or water damage.
- Pre-event: What can be done?
- What you can do if the threat of flooding is imminent
- What can you do during a flood?
- Immediate actions following a flood
- Reducing damage and disruption in the future
Pre-event – What can be done?
Before purchasing a property or when evaluating your current property you should look at such factors as:
- Prior flooding history
- Proximity to rivers, streams and other water channels or open bodies of water
- Proximity to surface water drainage ditch or stream
- Is the property situated in a low lying area?
- Is the property situated is a known flood plain?
- Any basement, cellars or similar as part of the property which may be affected by surface water flooding/ingress?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, you should consider is this property worth the risk or what you can do to reduce the risk and take action to prepare in advance, such as:
- Raising the elevation of critical equipment and stock, or relocating particularly vulnerable equipment to other parts of the premises, or to an upper floor.
- Raising electrical and telecommunications points such as sockets, phone points to a higher point (consider raising them to 1 metre above expected water levels)
- Consider replacing susceptible linings, furniture, fixtures and fittings with more water resistant alternatives, e.g. stone flooring, tiled or water resistant wall coverings, water retardant plasters and linings, plastic kitchen cupboards.
- Develop and/or extend existing emergency plans to include actions in the event of flooding
- Make up a flood kit – including torch, batteries, rubber gloves, wellington boots, waterproof clothing and a first aid kit. Also have your insurers emergency helpline number, details of your policy and other useful numbers such as local council, utilities suppliers and emergency services.
- Regularly check the building structure for defects, cracks and gaps through which water may enter the premises. If you discover any seal them.
- Ensure that routine inspection, maintenance of drainage systems (i.e. guttering, down pipes and drains) is undertaken at least annually. If you become aware that the local drainage system cannot cope in times of rainfall report to your local authority as it may have become silted up and require cleaning.
- Where possible turn off gas, electricity and water supplies at the mains.
- Unplug all electrical items and where possible store them up high or on upper levels of your house. With heavy electrical items consider raising them above anticipated water levels.
- Close off flow valves on gas tanks, oil tanks etc that supply your house through pipes and fittings.
- Consider the need to move furniture and appliances to an offsite storage facility. Preferable a properly temperature controlled storage facility that an expert in handling furniture may have.
- Deploy any temporary flood protection measures
- Move vehicles to higher secure ground.
- Be alert to the risk of flooding caused not only by rivers but also surface water building up and overwhelming drains following heavy spells of rain leading to localised flooding.
- Cooperate with the emergency services if they tell you to evacuate during flooding.
- Be prepared to act quickly to get yourself and your family to safety.
- Do not try to walk or drive through flood waters – 6 inches of fast flowing water can knock you off your feet and 2 feet of water will float your car.
- Be aware that manhole covers may come off and there may be other hazards you cannot see
- Do not walk on sea defences, river banks or across bridges as they may collapse or you could be swept off by a large wave.
- Avoid contact with flood water as it may be contaminated with sewage.
- Contact your insurance broker and advise what has happened. They will then provide you on the best action to take and instigate any specialist services required. Make sure your insurance company knows where to contact you if you have had to move out. Also advise them of the location of any damaged furniture you may have had stored to avoid further damage. Contact the storage company if the insurance company require viewing the furniture.
- If you are making an insurance claim avoid disposing of any items until you are told to do so.
- Do not use electrical or gas supply in flooded properties until appropriate checks have been undertaken by a qualified person.
- Take photos of the damage to any contents and/or the building as this may assist with settlement of your claim.
- Flood protection devices should be cleaned as soon as possible to avoid potential contamination.
Reducing damage and disruption in the future
All properties that have been flooded could benefit from some degree of flood resilient repair. Some resilient techniques may not cost substantially more than standard repair (like for like) and these may be an appropriate method of repairing a variety of flooded properties.
Repairing a property that has been flooded offers an opportunity to minimise the damage and disruption that could be caused by any future flooding. There are two main approaches:
- Flood resilience – reduce damage caused when flood water gets into the property.
- Flood resistance – reduce the amount of water that gets into the house.
There is a growing range of products and techniques for keeping floodwater out of your house and it is important that only products suitable for the intended end use application are considered. We would advise that you only use products that have been independently tested and proved fit for the purpose. It is your responsibility to ensure that the products are appropriate for your house and are correctly fitted and maintained.