Floods don’t care if it’s Christmas!

Published: December 15, 2023

There is no good time to flood however being flooded over the festive period is just appalling! Sadly, floods don’t care if it’s Christmas. Can you begin to imagine how you’d feel if it happened to you? Christmas presents, trees and decorations wrecked by filthy, stinking flood water and this is on top of sodden belongings and sentimental items. In recent years, we’ve seen floods wipe out many homes and communities over the Christmas period. Always be prepared, as it may happen again this year!

On the run up to the festive period, we’ve got lots to prepare and think about and planning for a flood may seem one thing too many. But trust me, if you live at flood risk, it’s time well spent and may reduce an awful lot of heartache.

Listed below are a few things to think about to plan in advance of a flood. Whilst the list is not exhaustive, it’ll certainly help you and when thinking about it, you can add things that are personal to your own circumstances. Being prepared in advance for a flood gives you control and peace of mind, knowing that if the worst happens, you are ready and can enjoy your Christmas.

Preparing for a flood

    • Make sure you have the correct insurance cover – please check flooding is covered by your insurance provider. 
    • Are you signed up for a free Environment Agency Flood Warning? https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings
    • Find out how to turn off your gas, electricity and water supplies.
    • Keep a list of useful telephone numbers (including your GP details, insurance claim line & policy number)
    • Put together an emergency flood kit.
    • Think about the needs of children, babies, elderly, people with disabilities who live at home at home and of course, your pets.
    • Take detailed photos of your property and contents NOW before any flood occurs.
    • Make an action plan to use in the event of a flood: I have a guide on my website, which will help you FloodMary.com
    • Always plan to move your car to higher ground first, as you don’t want a flooded home and a flooded car!
    • Identify and list urgent actions in priority of value.
    • What needs to be moved upstairs?
    • How are you going to prevent water entering your home? Lots of information on my website. But in an emergency, use gaffer tape around your doors and over your airbricks, to slow down the amount of water that gets in.
    • Make sure you have the means to keep warm, food, flasks, etc.
    • Make sure mobile phone chargers, computer data and photographs stored safely.
    • Most things can be replaced, family photographs, often cannot – move them to safety in good time.

If a flood does occur, remember that. 

  • 15 cms (six inches) of fast flowing water can knock you over.
  • 60 cms (two feet) of water will float your car.
  • Just an egg cupful of water can wreck an engine.
  • Flooding can cause manhole covers to come off, leaving hidden dangers.
  • Don’t walk or drive through flood water. As there are so many hidden hazards and the water may be too deep to drive through, and you may well than face an insurance claim for your car.
  • Don’t let children play in flood water.
  • Don’t walk on sea defences or riverbanks.
  • When water levels are high be aware that bridges may be dangerous to walk or drive over.
  • Culverts are dangerous when flooded.
  • Look out for other hazards such as fallen power lines and trees.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly if you touch floodwater as it will be contaminated.
  • Don’t forget to check on your neighbours!

After a flood

  • Don’t go back into your home until you have been told it’s safe to do so.
  • Phone your insurance company as soon as possible, many have 24 hours help lines during a flood.
  • Take photos and a video of the damage, this includes the contents of fridge and freezer.
  • Mark a line on the wall as to where the water came up to.
  • Wear gloves when touching anything that is wet as it may well be contaminated.
  • Cut a piece of your carpet and save it for the loss adjuster and then try to remove carpets into the garden but don’t throw it away. Carpets hold water into the property and wet heavy items inhibit the drying process. Once they are outside try to keep windows and doors open to aid ventilation but remember to lock up every time you leave your home as sadly unscrupulous thieves never miss an open door.
  • For more detailed advice on how to recover from a flood, there is a guide on the front page of my website FloodMary.com.

Beware of tradesmen

  • Who can start the next day – reputable ones are usually busy.
  • Offers not to charge VAT.
  • Ask to be put in touch with past clients to see samples of work.
  • Beware of someone who gives only a mobile number and no business address.
  • If someone calls and says that they are from the Insurance Company – check first.
  • If in doubt, contact your Insurance Company/Insurance Adjuster 
  • You can use your own trusted builder if you so choose so book a local reputable builder early. There could be a real shortage of builders.
  • Don’t pay in advance, do pay in stages, and don’t make the final payment until you are happy with the work.

Consider installing Property Flood Resilience Measures

  • Have you thought about protecting your property against the possibility of future flooding?
  • Self-closing airbricks, flood barriers, flood doors, non-return valves, pumps and absorbent cushions can significantly reduce the awful impact a flood can bring. For more details visit the Householders Guide to Flood Resilience on my website FloodMary.com

© Mary Long-Dhonau OBE