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Flooding update

Friday, 20 November 2009

With many parts of the Country being issued with severe weather warnings the Office of Public Works has the following advice on how to deal with flooding.

"If you think that a flood is coming, don't panic! The actions that can be undertaken immediately prior to a flood to reduce damages and keep you and your family safe are outlined below.
Inside your house
. Move valuables and other items to safety. Place them above the flood level or upstairs. (It may be preferable to routinely store such items safely upstairs or on high shelves).
. Roll up carpets and rugs and place them out of harm's way.
. Empty furniture that cannot be moved and put the contents upstairs.
. Raise furniture that cannot be moved elsewhere on bricks or blocks. Move these pieces away from walls to assist the drying later. If pieces are too difficult to lift weigh them down with a heavy object to prevent them floating and causing damage to windows, etc.
. Remove curtains if there is time, if not tie them over the curtain rail.
. Remove cabinet doors and internal doors if time allows, if not leave them open.
. Put sandbags at any openings where the water could gain access.
. Turn off gas and electricity.
. Disconnect cookers, washing machines, dishwashers, etc., connected by ridged pipes to prevent damaging the machine and the pipes.
. Store any electrical items upstairs or above flood level.
. Be prepared to evacuate your home or business. Protect yourself, your family and others that need your help.
. Have warm clothing and Wellingtons ready.
. Have medication to hand (if needed).
. Check water/food stocks.
. Co-operate with emergency services and local authorities. You may be evacuated to emergency centres.
Outside your house
. Move your car to high ground if possible.
. Move any items kept outside such as garden furniture to higher ground. Remember that floodwater could get into your garage so move any chemicals or fuel to ensure that they do not spill into the floodwater and cause damage.
. Weigh down any manhole covers with sandbags or heavy objects. These could open during a flood and cause a hazard.
. Close off the flow valves on propane tanks, oil drums, or other fuel containers that supply your home through pipes and fittings.
. Unplug any exterior electrical connections such as outdoor lighting, pond pumps and filters.
. Turn off the water supply to the garden.
. Tie in climbing plants.
. Check tree ties are secure on any newly planted trees.
. Anchor fruit cages and cold frames against storm damage or dismantle them if time permits.
. Take valuable or sentimental items and store them indoors or move them to higher ground.
. Move treasured border plants to high beds, plant stands or heavy containers.
. Empty petrol lawn mowers.
. Lock gardening tools away.
. Use sandbags or flood boards on greenhouses and sheds.
. Harvest any crops that can be ripened indoors, such as tomatoes.

Do not re-occupy your house until it has been cleaned, disinfected and dried. You should also have any electric, gas or fuel based service checked by a professional before turning them on.
Floodwater can undermine the foundations of a property, weaken it structurally and move heavy items such as furniture into an unstable position.
When entering a property after a flood, always take the following precautions:

. Assume all power lines are live. Check that the power in the property is off before you do anything.
. Check for the smell of gas and make sure the lines are turned off.
. When entering a room look at the ceiling for any signs of cracks or bulges. Wet plaster is very heavy and can pose a threat to the structure of the property.
. If your basement is flooded do not rush to pump it out. If the ground outside is saturated it could create uneven pressure on the basement walls.
. Be careful when moving any debris and seek help in moving heavy or unstable items that could trap or crush you.
. Do not enter a building that has large amounts of sediment either inside or against it, as the structure may be unstable.
. Be careful when moving around inside the property, standing water can hide a lot of hazards.
. Move slowly and carefully when moving around a flooded building.
. Watch out for vermin or stray animals which may have taken shelter in your property during a flood. Be careful when approaching any animal and if you are worried call the local animal warden.
. Remember rats' urine can cause Weil's disease, so take care not to expose yourself to any water that you believe has been exposed to rats.
. Standing water can be a breeding place for microorganisms which can be released into the air when the water is disturbed. These can be a health hazard if inhaled. Remove all items from the water as soon as possible and wear a protective mask if asthmatic or if you have chest problems.
. Remember that water can be contaminated - Wash your hands with disinfectant if they come into contact with floodwater or silt debris
Once you are satisfied that it is safe to enter your property there are a few things you must do before you start to clean.
. Record the damage caused by the flood on a camera or video recorder.
. Mark the water levels on the walls for reference.
. Check with your insurance company. They will usually pay for any clearing up, cleaning and sanitising following a flood. You may also be entitled to other assistance as well.
. Always make sure your insurance company has given approval before any work is carried out."
For further information please go to

Source: Office of Public Works

If you are concerned about flooding in your area please contact your local county council.

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