What To Do In The Event Of A Flood

Wednesday 30th August 2023

Ellen Warren

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Emergency flood kit unpacked over surface


When flood damage occurs after a flood, it presents a significant challenge that requires swift and effective action. Knowing what to do when a flood strikes is essential for those living or operating in areas vulnerable to flooding.

Our skilled team at ICE Cleaning can handle situations requiring comprehensive flood damage cleaning services. We can be on-site within hours of your call in an emergency, effectively managing the clean-up and restoration processes for affected sites.

Read on to learn about the essential actions you need to take during and after a flood event.

What types of floods are there?

Floods can take various forms and cause a range of problems. The most common type is the river flood, which occurs when rivers overflow due to excessive rainfall or snowmelt.

In coastal areas where tides rise and fall, residents are more likely to experience coastal flooding. This happens when high tides combine with storm surges to breach sea defences. Flash floods can emerge rapidly from sudden intense rainfall, overwhelming local drainage systems.

We also encounter groundwater flooding in urban environments. Water levels rise above ground level in these situations due to extensive concrete coverage that limits natural absorption.

To fully understand the implications of these different types of floods, it is crucial to understand the various types of floodwater involved and assess their respective dangers.

What types of floodwater are there?

Floodwaters come in different forms, the safest being clean water, sourced from rain or melting snow. Although it is called 'clean', it can still cause significant damage.

The second type is greywater, which carries contaminants that can pose health risks if contacted or ingested. Typical sources include household appliances like dishwashers and bathroom sinks.

The third category, blackwater, is the most dangerous due to its origin from sewage backups to natural disasters such as floods. This water contains harmful bacteria and viruses, which can trigger serious illnesses or cause infections in open wounds.

What are the levels of flood warning?

In the face of potential flooding, an alert system is in place for UK residents. This consists of four main types of warnings issued by the Environment Agency, each carrying different implications about severity and immediacy.

The initial level, known as 'Flood Alert', implies a possibility of flooding, and it is time to prepare. Progressing to 'Flood Warning' signifies expected flooding requiring immediate actions.

A step further is a 'Severe Flood Warning', indicating extreme floods with life-threatening consequences. Knowing these warning levels can play an instrumental role in effectively managing damage caused by floods.

How to prepare for a flood

When it comes to preparing for a flood, there are several steps you can take to protect your home and loved ones. Here are some key measures to consider:

  1. Educate yourself: Familiarise yourself with the flood warning system and understand the different levels of alerts issued by the Environment Agency. Be aware of the flood warning system and take action accordingly.
  2. Create an emergency plan: Develop a comprehensive plan that includes evacuation routes, a communication strategy, and a designated meeting point for your family. Ensure all family members know the necessary steps to take in case of a flood.
  3. Secure your property: Take preventive measures such as installing flood barriers, sealing walls and floors, and raising electrical sockets and appliances. Consider waterproofing your basement and installing non-return valves on drains and pipes.
  4. Protect important documents: Keep important documents, such as insurance policies, passports, and birth certificates, in a waterproof and easily accessible place. Consider making digital copies as well.
  5. Get your emergency kit ready: Pack a bag with all the essentials you'd need

Knowing your flood risk

Floods can infiltrate your home with little warning, and you can protect yourself by understanding your local flood risk. This information is readily available from local council databases or the GOV.UK website.

By knowing the potential risks, crafting an emergency plan becomes paramount. This plan should encompass evacuation routes and crucial safety measures, including turning off utilities such as gas and electricity.

Protective equipment such as sandbags and flood barriers can be useful if you have no time to evacuate, saving you extra time to move your belongings and move to higher ground.

Keeping up-to-date insurance that covers flood damage is ideal, offering financial security when dealing with losses brought about by these unpredictable flooding events. Flood Re is an insurance scheme that makes flood damage insurance more affordable and easier to access.

What to do in the event of a flood

The first step in dealing with a flood is to prioritise personal safety. Avoid floodwater as it poses various health risks and can cause injuries. Stay updated on local developments through the UK Government's Flood Information Service for real-time data on the severity and extent of flooding.

If you need to evacuate, you must turn off utilities at the mains before leaving your property. Other integral steps to take during a flood include:

Contacting emergency services

If someone is at risk due to impending floods or is stuck because of the rising water, it is advisable to call emergency services. They have the necessary resources to carry out rescue operations during floods.

Safeguarding valuables

If there is enough time and it is safe, move valuable items upstairs or raise them above ground level if possible. This can significantly reduce damage from incoming floodwaters.

Once the immediate flood situation is addressed, it is essential to proceed with post-flood measures. This includes contacting your insurance company and enlisting the services of a professional cleaning company.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of damage is caused by floods?

Floods can cause extensive structural damage to buildings, erode landscapes, contaminate water supplies, and result in loss of life or injury.

Can I claim compensation for flooding?

If you have home insurance that covers flood damage, you may be eligible to make a claim. However, you must review your policy details first.

What are the effects of flood damage?

After a flood, there are various health hazards due to polluted water, loss of residence, and high costs associated with the cleaning process.

How much does flood damage cost the UK?

The estimated annual cost of flood damage in the UK is approximately £1 billion, as reported by The Guardian. However, this figure will increase due to the impact of climate change.

Get in touch

The cleaning process is not as simple as mopping up excess water and requires proper cleaning services. At ICE Cleaning, our expert team offers emergency response flood restoration services. We can effectively dry, decontaminate, and clean a property thoroughly.

To learn more about our flood cleaning services, you can reach out to our team at 0208 066 0360 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk. We are available to assist nationwide, 365 days a year, 24/7.

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Zoe Dunning

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