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What to do if your home floods

Flooded Street And Homes

As the weather takes a turn for the worse, it’s important to feel prepared for whatever comes your way. One force of nature that people often overlook is flooding, but floods can be one of the most damaging elements to your home. So, what should you do if you know there’s a chance of flooding? To help, we’ve created this guide to what to do if your home floods. 

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How to prepare for a flood 

Floods can be a nerve-racking experience, but with a little preparation, you can make the process much smoother. With that in mind, here are a few steps to prepare for a flood. 

Check your risk of flooding 

You can get flood updates from local news, weather, and traffic bulletins. If you’d like to be more proactive with your flood preparation, you can get weather information and find out where severe weather warnings are predicted through the Met Office website

Reduce the risk of flood damage  

Flooding can cause so much damage to your home and belongings. However, you can reduce the likelihood of damage with a few simple steps before the flood hits. To minimise the impact of flooding on your home, follow these steps:  

  • Keep a list of useful contact numbers, such as your local council, emergency services, and your insurance company. You never know when you’ll need them close to hand
  • Make a plan with the people you live with as to how you’ll contact each other if the flood separates you
  • Move your valuable belongings upstairs or into a safe place before the flood hits
  • Identify where your gas and electricity mains are located. You’ll want to turn them off before the flood hits
  • Check that your insurance provider covers flood damage to your home  
  • Prepare some sandbags, flood boards, or plastic covers to block doorways and airbricks
  • If you have a car, consider moving it to prevent damage to your vehicle.
Sandbags Outside House

Prepare an emergency flood kit 

There’s no knowing how long a flood will go on for or what essentials you’ll be cut off from, so it’s vital to pack some must-have items while you have the chance. Here are some essentials that we would recommend:  

  • Copies of your home and contents insurance documents wrapped in waterproof casing 
  • A torch with spare batteries  
  • Warm, waterproof clothing, rubber boots and blankets  
  • A battery-powered or wind-up radio
  • First aid kit and supplies of medication needed by anyone in the home
  • A bottle of water and tinned or dried food
  • Baby supplies
  • Essential medicines.
Emergency Kit

Preventative measures to stop your home from flooding

If you’re a homeowner, there are a couple of tasks you can keep on top of to reduce your chances of flooding in your home. If you rent your home, you can request these tasks to be carried out by your housing provider. Renting your home from Places for People? Don’t worry, you can also request the following tasks to be carried out through your online account or by calling our Customer Contact Centre on 01772 666 091 in England and Wales or 0131 657 0600 in Scotland.

Steps you can take to prevent flooding in your home include: 

  • Maintain all drains within your home
  • Clean private gullies, especially during autumn, when fallen leaves can cause blockages 

How to ensure your safety during a flood

Flood water can often be dangerous due to its speed, depth, and hidden obstacles in the water. In the event of a flood, the most important thing to do is ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones. Move to the upper floor of your home and call for help or leave your home by a safe and dry route. 

If anyone remains in the flooded home and the electricity supply was not turned off before the flood, do not enter. You should only touch electrical appliances once you've been told it's safe to do so and stay out of the flood water. 

Remember, if there is a threat to life, call 999 immediately.

When everyone is safe, follow the following steps to recover from flood damage.

What to do once the flood hits 

Once the flood hits, it's time to step into action. Here are some steps to get your home back up and running as soon as possible following a flood.  

Notify your insurance company 

Your first step should always be to inform your insurance company of the flooding. If you live in a Places for People rented property, we cover the insurance of the building your home is located in, but it's your responsibility to insure the contents of your home. 

Although you can't identify the damage caused by the flood just yet, you can establish whether they will provide alternative accommodation or emergency funds while confirming the next step of your claim. 

If your insurance won't cover alternative accommodation, you'll have to find your own, whether that's a hotel, a temporary rental, or staying with friends or family. Alternatively, if you can't secure accommodation and fall into priority housing needs, seek support from Shelter UK's website

If you're a Places for People Customer, call our Customer Contact Centre on 01772 666 091 in England and Wales or 0131 657 0600 in Scotland to arrange alternative accommodation. 

Let your friends, family, and employer know about the flood 

Once you’re in a safe space, it’s time to notify your loved ones and employer. Letting them know will prevent them from worrying and help them to make the needed adjustments to facilitate your needs. 

Don’t return to your home  

As tempting as it is, it’s wise to keep away from your home after flooding until you’ve been told it’s safe to return.

Calling Emergency Services On Mobile Phone

What to do once you’ve returned home after a flood

The flood has cleared, and you’ve got the green light to return home, so what now? Here’s a to-do list of tasks you should complete on your return. 

Make a list of the flood damage  

Now that you can safely return home, it’s time to inspect the damage. This could include taking photos, making a list of damages, and sourcing receipts for damaged goods. All of these elements will help you with the next step. 

Contact your insurance company  

You may have already done this to inform them that your home has been affected by a flood, but now that you've collected your proof, it's time to get in touch with your insurer once again to get the ball rolling with your claim. 

You will need to contact them to arrange for a loss adjuster to visit your home to establish how the claim process works with your specific insurer. 

If you rent a home through Places for People, any issues with the building your home is located in will be covered by our insurance, but the contents are your responsibility. So, it's worth getting familiar with how to make a claim through your contents insurer. 
Clear away the damaged items 

It's vital that you keep any flood-damaged items that you intend to claim against, as they might be required as evidence. Your local authority may offer a collective refuse collection scheme to clear whatever items aren't salvageable, so it's worth contacting your local council to enquire about this. 

Start the process of drying, repairing, and replacing your flood-damaged items 

Where your insurer is covering part or all of the cost of your home repairs, the loss adjuster will be your main point of contact between you and your insurance company. Although decisions on the claim are the responsibility of your insurer, who will usually remain in touch with you through the process, it’s the loss adjuster who will deal with you on a regular basis. 

It’s crucial not to commission repair works on your home until the insurer has agreed to cover the repairs. If you’re not insured, you can start your repair work right away. 

Now that you’ve been given the go ahead, it’s time to clear up your home with the following steps: 

Removing flood water 

To remove the remaining flood water from your home, you’ll need a water pump. The right type of pump will depend on the amount of water you are trying to remove and how quickly you want to remove it. 
Guidance from CIRIA (Construction Industry Research and Information Association) suggests that no more than 1m of flood water should be removed each day to avoid structural damage to the building your home resides within. 
Before removing any water from your home, please take a look at the Government guidelines for where to pump this flood water. This information can be found here
Unblock air bricks and other ventilation holes

Unblocking these small ventilation holes in your walls and floors will allow water to escape and drain into nearby drains as soon as possible. 

Dry out your home

The first step to drying out your home is to secure the right equipment for the job. In most cases, it requires a dehumidifier to complete the task quickly. If you don’t have access to a dehumidifier, you may want to hire one to speed up the process. Speak to your insurance company to see if they will cover the cost. If you’re a Places for People Customer, this may be something we can help you with.

Drying Home After Flood

Seek professional advice for home flood recovery

If you’re unsure of the process or need more information on how to dry your home effectively after a flood, along with other work that might be needed before the property can be lived in again, seek professional advice from a chartered surveyor.