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How to protect your home against flooding

Skill Level: Beginner


As autumn gathers pace the falling leaves and lower temperatures give a gentle reminder of what is to come when the bite of winter (is it really only once a year?) makes its presence felt. The extreme weather conditions our homes must endure year after year can cause costly damage and inconvenience unless you take some basic precautionary steps.

There is nothing we can do about the weather, but we can go a little way to lessen the impact if things take a turn for the worse; some way to protecting our homes and possessions.



Year after year, many homeowners find themselves wading from room to room, knee high in flood water, trying to salvage what they can from the effects of a few days heavy rain. If you live in an area that is susceptible to flood then every winter is a time of stress and worry. It doesn’t take too many days of persistent rain to wreak havoc to those of us who live life on the edge.
Flooding can happen very quickly, with little or no warning of what is to come; but that does not mean you should put the idea to the back of your mind, and simply hope for the best. Don’t wait in hope…there are a few things you can do …just in case.
If you have suffered the effects of flooding in the past you probably don’t need to read the next few sentences, you may have learnt the hard way already. If not, the first method of flood protection, obvious though it may sound, is to invest in some sand bags. Try and keep the water at bay where possible. In the worst cases, sand bags may not be enough…so damage limitation is the order of the day; being as prepared as possible to ride out the ordeal, with the minimum of damage to your furnishings and valuables.  

Valuables and Insurance

Most people have buildings and contents insurance that covers you for flood damage, making this an important document in case the worst should occur. Keep this, and all your important documentation and valuables upstairs, or in the loft if you don’t have an upstairs. Wrap everything in waterproof bags, ensuring a good water tight seal.

Emergency lighting

With flooding often comes a loss in power so a couple of torches on standby are an absolute essential (including spare batteries)

Make sure you know where your gas, water and electricity mains and shut off points are located, because you may find yourself having to find and shut them off in dark, wet conditions in order to avoid further risk of damage.


Clearing up and the after effects of flooding

If you do fall victim to flooding then the hardest part is to come when the flooding has abated, and you must try and pick up the pieces of your life and home. You must get any standing water out of your house as quickly as possible, the damage is of course already done, but you need to get back to some form of normality as quickly as you can. If you have no electricity then you’ll almost certainly decide on a pump and portable generator.
Once the water is clear you can begin to get everything that is wet out of the house, if not to dry out, then for disposal. Carpets included.

Flood water contains nasties

Floodwater can contain sewage, chemicals, and other contaminants so all areas and rooms that have been affected will need a thorough disinfecting in order to prevent infections.
When tackling a home flood situation it is important that you take adequate personal protection. Protective, waterproof clothing should be worn when working in flood damage environments.

Drying out your home after flooding

When the water is finally gone, and you have cleared the house, the next and almost final step toward to getting back to normal – but potentially the longest part of the process – is getting everything dry again! By that we mean floors, walls, woodwork and plaster; chances are most everything else is beyond redemption. I’m assuming here that you managed to get valuable electrical equipment up high out of the way before the full impact of the flood to effect.
Heating, ventilation, and de-humidifiers will all help to dry things out. Use all methods together to speed things up.

Tools you will need:

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