The series of winter storms the UK experienced during the 2013/14 winter was described by the Met Office as “exceptional in its duration”, and has led to the wettest December to January period in Britain since records began. Heavy rains combined with strong winds and high waves led to widespread flooding and coastal damage, causing significant disruption to individuals, businesses and infrastructure.
Recent studies have suggested an increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms that take a more southerly track and hit the UK, and the Met Office believes there is also an increasing body of evidence that shows that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense. This means that wet, stormy winters could now be the rule rather than the exception. Consequently, the Government has been working on ways to strengthen the country’s flood defences, but what can you do to reduce flood damage to your home?
- Find out if you live in an area that’s prone to flooding. If you do, you may have been lucky up to now, so contact your local council and MP to find out what steps are being taken to protect residents.
- Check the details of flooding cover on your home insurance policy. You’re probably covered, but examine the fine print to find it’s true extent, and look for any loopholes. If you’re unhappy with the protection it offers, demand more from your insurer or shop around for better cover. Having your home flooding is stressful enough without worrying about how well you’re covered.
General flood insurance covers the costs of:
- Drying out, repairing and restoring your property and its fixtures and fittings
- Repair or replacement of damaged furniture and belongings
- Removing debris
- Professional fees (such as solicitors, architects, surveyors)
- Alternative accommodation while you can’t live in your home.
Following a severe weather warning:
- Keep the doors and windows shut
- Move anything of value, and as much as you physically can, upstairs
- Sandbag around the perimeter of your house, especially doorways and places where water can easily seep in
- Prepare an emergency kit in case you are trapped or need to evacuate, containing blankets, torches, waterproof clothing, food, water and a first aid kit
- Make sure you know how to turn off the electricity and gas supply (in the dark if necessary)
- Prepare a list of important emergency phone numbers, including emergency helplines for your local water company and insurance company
…and a final tip from the Money Advice Service when claiming for flood damaged food: “Keep the wrappers from frozen food you’ve have had to throw away or photograph the items– it’s amazing how much this adds up to, this evidence is accepted by most insurers as proof of loss.”