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  • Know your flood risk and how to protect your home

    Due to rising waters, around a quarter of homes in the UK are now at risk from flooding so it is important to know if your home is considered at risk and if you require specialist flood risk insurance to protect your property. Since December last year, major floods have been battering the UK with record amounts of rain causing extreme ocean surges. With the lack of money available to directly tackle this growing problem, prolonged flooding will mean that many parts of low-lying regions in the UK will need to resort to abandonment and returning these areas to nature, rather than repair and investing more heavily in preventative measures.

    Know your flood risk

    Flood risk insurancePrior to purchasing a property, and while you are still in the search stage, you can visit the Environment Agencies website to view their online flood map, or upon finding a property your solicitor will provide this information to you before completion of the sale. If your property is at risk then you can register with the Environment Agency’s flood line, which is a free service providing warnings by phone, text or email, or you can purchase a flood risk indicator from the land registry.

    It is important to know where you stand so that you can be fully prepared and undertake a number of measures to protect your property and minimise any damage that may occur from possible flooding.

    How to prepare for flood risk

    Needless to say, one of the first methods of protection is to make sure that you have specialist flood risk insurance in place. Many standard insurance providers will not provide insurance to those in high flood risk areas, so you will need to approach a specialist insurance broker.

    Once you have your flood risk insurance policy in place, you can then start to look at protecting your property against that probable day when the floods will arrive. It is possible to investigate raising your damp proof brick courses, which may be a costly structural activity but will certainly pay off when it comes to protecting your home. Cavity walls can also have draining systems installed to help with channelling the water to a specific collection point.

    Drains and inlet pipes can also be fitted with non-return valves to ensure that when water surges through the system a gate is sealed to prevent damage to your property. If your property does have a basement, you can also consider fitting a pump here to allow easy clean-up from a flooded basement, and electrical wiring and sockets can be raised to an acceptable flood level (about 1.5 meters above floor level).

    Other than structural changes you can invest in sandbags which are hugely helpful to prevent the full extent of possible damage, however you need to be aware that once wet these are a well-known source of contamination. Curtains can either be removed or rolled and hung over the rail as well as carpets or rugs being rolled and moved upstairs where possible.

    Flood boards for external doors can be measured and stored ready to go in the event of a flood where they can be quickly fitted to prevent water entering through doorways. You should also move any furniture upstairs where possible or away from the walls to help with the drying out process. Any gutters and pipes should be maintained and kept clear to allow for possible surges of water, as well as roof tiles checked to ensure they are all secure. Weighing down manhole covers where possible can also help to avoid later accidents.

    It is important to move any sentimental items and flood risk insurance documents upstairs so you have these to hand and ideally keep these sealed in waterproof packaging. When you are on flood alert you should also create a flood kit with essential items such as food, water, medicines, torch, batteries, a charged mobile phone, etc.

    Following a flood

    In the event of a flood it is understandable that you will want to get back to your home as soon as the water has subsided to check the damage. However, there are many dangers to be aware of to stay safe. You should switch off any electricity at the fuse box if it is safe to and try not to come into contact with any remaining water as this may be contaminated.

    Professional advice should be sought from a registered electrician and gas specialist before switching your services back on, and to check appliances, to ensure they are safe and in working order. When entering your property it is also important to note that you should never use a lit candle to guide you but make sure you bring a battery operated torch.

    If there has been major flood damage it is likely that parts of the electrical installation will need rewiring, rather than simple replacements of sockets, switches and cables. In this case if work needs to be done then it would be worth asking about the possibility of raising the height of your electrical equipment, fuse box and sockets accordingly. It is important to take photos or videos of the damage where possible and to send these to your flood risk insurance specialist, or landlord who will have landlord insurance, and start to kick off your flood risk insurance claim.

    Want to find out more about Bluedrop's Flood Risk Insurance?
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