Coping with flood risks

Following the longest heatwave since 2006, storms are now hitting the UK bringing torrential downpours this week.

Due to the ground’s dryness after the prolonged hot weather, there exists a risk of surface water and flash floods for homeowners.

Argyll Environmental is advising property owners to take precautions to minimise flood damage.

Argyll Environmental has pulled together an action list that all homeowners at risk of flooding this week should be taking:

1. Unblock your drains: Remove debris from drains and drainpipes, providing an easy pathway for water to flow.

2. Flood alerts: Sign up to flood alerts for your region and monitor the Met Office for up to date weather predictions.

3. Sandbags: Inexpensive and easy to reuse, these will help to divert and protect against low-level water entry into the home.

The UK has been experiencing increasingly erratic weather over the past few years with extreme cold periods over the winter seasons since 2009 causing major snowfalls and drifts that have cut off parts of the country. This level of unpredictability has heightened the risk of flooding. Argyll Environmental has outlined further long-term advice that will allow homeowners to manage flood risk.

These are:

Step 1: Understand your flood risk

Information may be available from the local authority where they have completed a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment examining risk in the wider area and existing flood alleviation schemes.

One of the biggest issues is properties being caught out by surface water flooding, this source of risk is not covered by the Environment Agency flood risk maps and you should seek advice from an appropriate professional.

Consider commissioning a flood risk screening report of flood protection survey which can provide home owners with quick and reliable advice on the best ways of protecting their properties.

Step 2: Protect your home and help reduce insurance premiums by installing flood resistance and flood resilience measures

Resistance measures to prevent the ingress of water including flood proof door guards and raised door thresholds are effective in preventing flood damage. Air brick covers are another cost effective method and are easy to place over ventilation bricks. Property owners can also fit non-return valves to their drains to avoid back-up and overflow.

It is equally important to incorporate resilience measures to reduce the amount of damage caused by flood water if it does enter a property and to speed up the recovery process. These help reduce the clean-up and drying out period and allow property owners to return home or open their businesses with less delay. These simple and affordable resistance measures include; tiled flooring, waterproof skirting boards, waterproof plaster substitutes and simple precautions such as raising electrical items and valuables above ground level.

Step 3: Prepare for flooding

Homeowners in areas at risk of flooding should register with SEPA to receive free flood warnings which can be delivered by phone, text or email.

Make a flood plan, further to SEPA advice homeowners should prepare a flood plan outlining the precautions and actions to take when a flood event is expected in order to help reduce the impact and damage flooding may cause. In addition, consider what actions you would take should the property need to be evacuated, including entrance and exit routes and preparing a flood kit in advance containing warm clothing, medication, food and wellingtons.

Properties within larger scale flood risk should also consider preparing a community flood plan to enable community members and group to respond more efficiently and effectively in the event of a flood. More information is available at the Environment Agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk