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Floods

Stay Safe During Flooding

January 17, 2014

The key to protecting yourself and sparing your home from flood damage is preparation. When a flood is imminent, you may only be able to resort to short-term measures that offer limited protection. Do not get stranded in floodwater by inadequate preparation—use the following tips to stay safe and healthy during flooding.

Sign up for the Environment Agency’s (EA) free flood warning service, Floodline Warnings direct, located at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/default.aspx, to receive updates the moment a flood is forecast. Make a flood plan that provides instructions on what to do when flooding is inevitable. An easy-to-complete template is available on the EA’s website. When a flood has been forecast, be ready with your flood kit should you need to leave your home. Turn off your gas, electricity and water before the flood hits. Leaking gas and live wires are extremely dangerous.

During a flood, avoid walking or driving in or near floodwater. Floodwater can be fast-moving and contaminated, and it could conceal hidden hazards such as sharp objects. Rather than trying to escape through the floodwater, seek higher ground that still offers a means of escape. Heed the advice of emergency services, which you can get via your mobile or radio. Only use electronics that are necessary, and never touch sources of electricity if you are standing in water.

Wash your hands frequently if you have any contact with floodwater, and do not touch your mouth—swallowing floodwater or mud can wreak havoc on your stomach, causing diarrhoea, fever or abdominal pain.

As the floodwater starts to recede, do not rush headlong into clean-up efforts, as the danger has not yet completely passed. Just because the water is draining does not mean it no longer harbours hidden risks. Only enter floodwater with durable rubber boots and gloves. If you are relying on portable generators or heating appliances to dry out your home’s interior, ensure proper ventilation. Never use petrol or diesel generators inside, as their exhaust gases contain deadly carbon monoxide.

Wait for a qualified technician to check your gas or electrics before you turn them on. Ask your water company or local authority to approve your water for human consumption, as the water may be contaminated and unfit for drinking or washing.

After the immediate dangers have passed, phone your insurer immediately for advice. Take photographs of your property to document the damage—the more the better. Clean all hard surfaces like walls and floors with hot water and detergent. However, refrain from using a pressure washer, as elevated pressure can blast contaminants into the air. Remember to wear your rubber boots, gloves and mask to stay clean and healthy during the clean-up process. And don’t forget: The insurance professionals at CLA Insurance have all the resources handy to ensure you stay safe during flooding.

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