This year has seen gargantuan hurricanes roaring across the Caribbean, with storms also making landfall in the UK, which can increase instances of flooding. Experts from organisations like the Met Office and the Environment Agency tell us that global warming will most likely lead to the UK experiencing increased flooding in the years to come. But don’t despair: there is help and advice at hand and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)’s Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience is a hive of information.
Dr Jessica Lamond is Associate Professor in flood risk management and works within the research centre. Below are some of her tips on how best to prepare for inundation in the UK, as well as ideas on how to mitigate the impact of water if it enters our homes:
– When renting or buying a house, visit the Environment Agency’s (EA) website to check if the property is in a flood plain. The EA provides maps showing zones susceptible to flooding. However, view these with caution as they are still somewhat imprecise, and a house that sits in a high risk zone can still be at very low risk of flooding due to its elevation. Another source of information is Know Your Flood Risk.
– Make sure you take out building and household insurance. Most policies in the UK include flood damage, but check with your insurer to be sure that this is included in the policy.
– If you receive a flood warning in your area, put in place a plan of action in advance i.e. work out how you will take the kids to school, how to protect your belongings in your house (i.e. move them upstairs), where to put your car, and where to put your pets etc.
– It sounds obvious, but keep all documents upstairs or, if living in a bungalow, keep a copy of them in another safe place, such as a friend’s home.
– If your home is at risk of flooding or is actually flooded, don’t despair. There is a lot of help out there from organisations such as the National Flood Forum.
– When taking out your next household insurance policy, find out about Flood Re, a flood re-insurance scheme that enables you to keep your premiums down, even if you have already claimed for flood damage.
– Once your home has been flooded, watch out for access to government funding. Sometimes you can access money to help guard your house’s structure against further flooding.
– You can modify your home to make it more flood resilient. Such measures include buying a flood resistant front door that fully seals when closed, smart ventilation bricks (these contain small balls that rise up when in contact with water and seal the air holes), and water-resistant wall coatings on the outside of the house. There are also ways of protecting the inside of your house.
Of course the above tips are for those susceptible to flooding. However, UWE Bristol’s Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience also assesses the causes of flooding, some of which are man-made. For more information on how the Centre is addressing this and many other issues around flood risk management, click here.