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During and after a flood

Staying safe

  • Listen to BBC local radio which has a special role to provide emergency information.
  • Avoid coming into contact with floodwater, which may be contaminated by silt, sewage, oil or chemicals. Don't let children play in floodwater.
  • Don't eat food that may have been in contact with floodwater.
  • Use only crockery, cutlery and work surfaces that have first been disinfected.
  • Wash cuts and grazes and cover with a waterproof plaster.
  • Seek medical advice if you have symptoms of diarrhoea, fever or abdominal pain.
  • Avoid walking through flood water - 15cm of fast flowing water can knock you over.
  • Don't walk along river banks or cross river bridges if avoidable.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated and enclosed areas where hazardous fumes may build up.
  • Call 999 if you are in danger, or people have been injured.

If you are evacuated

  • Leave your home if the emergency services advise you to. Refusing to leave on their advice will put your family and those trying to help you at risk.
  • Food and bedding will be provided at the evacuation centre. Bring clothing, medication and babycare items. If possible, bring pets in a secure carrier together with pet food.
  • Tell someone if you intend to stay with friends or relatives instead of going to the evacuation centre.
  • Contact your local council for advice about temporary shelters or accommodation if you are evacuated from your home.

Recovering from a flood

  • Contact your home insurer as soon as possible. They will arrange for a loss adjuster and other specialists to visit your home to assess the damage.
  • If you think your home has suffered structural damage get professional advice.
  • Before switching on your gas and electricity supply and appliances have them checked by a qualified technician.
  • Unblock/uncover air bricks, vents and pipes before switching everything back on.
  • Dispose of any food that may have been contaminated by floodwater. The Food Standards Agency and the Health Protection Agency have some useful advice.
  • Wear protective clothes, boots and rubber gloves whilst cleaning-up. Use a brush, soapy water and heavy duty cleaner then rinse well.
  • Use a pump or buckets to get rid of standing water and shovel out mud. Hose out remaining sediments and follow up with a wet/dry vacuum.
  • Disinfect all areas affected after cleaning and make sure you wash your hands with disinfectant afterwards.
  • People who are allergic to mould should not be involved in the clean-up.
  • Take furniture, bedding and clothing outside to dry in order to avoid mould forming.
  • Use fans, heaters and dehumidifiers to dry out the building, and keep the central heating on at 22 degrees or above.
  • Drying out can take weeks or even months. Done too quickly it can cause structural damage and long term problems.
  • Good ventilation is essential so keep windows and doors open on dry days but remember to keep the property secure when vacant.
  • Flood waste taken to local tips will be classified as controlled waste and must be handled properly. Waste management firms can be found in the Yellow Pages or on yell.com.
Published: 30 Jan 2015
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