Climate change has meant that our winters are getting wetter. As a result, flooding is becoming a more frequent occurrence and is a significant threat to our safety and our homes. According to the Environment Agency National Risk Assessment, over 5 million homes in England are at risk of flooding, of which 2.4 million are at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea. One million of these properties are susceptible to flooding from surface water alone. So how can you combat the threat of flooding and keep your property safe, dry and free from damage?
Ways to Protect your Home
Know what you’re dealing with
First of all, find out if your home is at risk of flooding. Contact the environment agency on 0845 988 1188 or visit their website. Your home may not be at risk of river or sea flooding but it may still be subject to surface water flooding, and if this is the case, you’ll need to prepared to protect your property and possessions.
Keep Flood Water Out
We are all familiar with stacking sandbags to prevent water from getting into our homes. These are ultimately considered to be a temporary measure, but if used with sheets of plastic, they can prevent water contaminated with mud, debris and other hazardous materials from entering your home. Sandbags are not 100% effective though and it’s unlikely that your property will remain dry.
Keep water out by reinforcing doors and buying adequate guards and flood boards. Store them close by and be ready to install them when a flood warning is in place. Guards can be fitted quickly and will stop water seeping through gaps in external doors. You should also fit covers over ventilation vents and bricks, seal floors to prevent water from coming up from under the house, and fit non return valves to drains and water inlet and outlets to stop water from backing up during a flood.
If you’re very concerned, or your home is particularly susceptible to flooding, you may need to re-landscape your garden to divert water away from the walls of the house and to keep all gutters and drains clear of leaves and debris.
Here’s a list of some more simple yet effective things you can do to improve your flood defences:
- Buy temporary flood barriers that can be assembled around the home to prevent floodwaters from entering
- Where possible, all electrical appliances, sockets and wiring should be 1.5m above floor level
- Replace skirting boards with water resistant board
- Replace fitted carpet with tiles or rugs
- Dry line walls using plasterboard instead of gypsum board
- Store valuables and irreplaceable possessions high up away from flood level
- Windows and doors should be made of PVC or other synthetic materials instead of wood. If wood is necessary, then varnish will help protect the wood from water damage
- Use water resistant materials where possible in the home, such as plastic, stainless steel or, as mentioned above, varnished solid wood
During a flood warning, make sure you keep a change of clothes, essential toiletries and insurance contact details in a waterproof bag or container in case you need to be rehoused or evacuated quickly.
The Environment Agency recommends that householders buy flood defence products that have been kite-marked. This is a marking system that means the product has been tested and is fit for purpose, and that it meets the benchmark that has been developed by the Environment Agency and the British Standards Institution.
Please see the Environment Agency’s Flood protection advice leaflet for further information on how to protect your home from floods.
Fraser Ruthven is the Marketing Associate for London Drainage Facilities, one of London’s leading drainage companies. London Drainage provides a wide range of drainage diagnostic and repair services in and around capital.