‘Be aware, prepare and take practical actions’: dealing with risks from flooding

A new guide produced by the Know Your Flood Risk campaign and co-authored by one of the speakers at the RGS-IBG’s forthcoming Policy Forum on flood risk management, encourages home owners to do more to protect themselves and their properties from flooding. The ‘Homeowners Guide to Flood Resilience‘ aims to ’empower people to be aware, prepare and take practical precautions to reduce the impact of flooding.’ The guide follows the release of the ‘Bonfield Report‘ last week, setting out the results of a review commissioned by Government into why people do not adequately protect their homes from flooding and how this can be addressed.

By taking practical steps to increase the resistance and resilience of a property to flooding, the value of a claim submitted to insurers can be reduced or home owners can remove the need to claim at all, therefore allowing them access to mainstream insurance premiums. More importantly, the time taken to recover from the effects of flooding can be shortened dramatically: especially pertinent given that the average amount of time people are forced to spend out of their homes once flood-damaged is nine months.

At a time when flooding is projected to get worse, and Government funds are tight, home owners must do more to take responsibility for their own protection. In the foreword to the Guide, Mary Dhonau OBE, one of the authors and Chief Executive of the ‘Know Your Flood Risk‘ campaign, explains that: ‘[Home owners] don’t stop to think about investing in flood prevention as we believe Government should protect us or our insurance will cover it. The sad truth is that with so many of us at risk of flooding, there isn’t enough Government money to protect everyone and your insurance cover might not pick up the full bill.

Both of the authors, Mary Dhonau and Carly Rose – who will speak at the Society’s Policy Forum on 8th November, on the topic of ‘Achieving sustainable flood risk management in the UK‘ – have direct experience of being flooded. From their experience and interviews with others who have also been flooded extensively, they have produced a practical set of recommendations to home owners, including a diagram of a house with resilience and resistance measures installed. Resistance measures – designed to keep water out of the home, buying valuable time for furniture and possessions to be moved – include flood barriers, strengthened doors and windows, flood alarms and garden landscaping. Resilience measures, designed to reduce flood damage to buildings once water enters, include stainless steel kitchens, extensive wall and floor tiling, installed with waterproof grout and adhesive, removable stair carpet and quick-release, removable internal doors.

The launch of the newly updated guide, first produced in 2014, comes during the Environment Agency’s two-week #floodaware campaign, encouraging home owners to do more to investigate the risk from flooding to their property and to take action to deal with this risk. The guide urges home owners to, at the very least, prepare a flood plan setting out what they would do in the event of a flood – whether to evacuate completely or remove to the upper floors/ a safe space in their property. Flood Re, launched in April 2016, providing subsidised house hold insurance to those areas at high risk of flooding but has been criticised recently for doing little to encourage house holders to build resilience, instead encouraging ‘return to normal’ approaches. From the content of the Guide it is clear that home owners can and should do more, with some simple and some low cost measures, to increase their own preparedness.

Image: Jim Barton. After the Flood, Tweed Green, Peebles. Licensed for re-use under Creative Commons.