Staying Safe During the Aftermath of a Flood and How to Protect Your Business Against Them
It’s important to be aware of the dangers of flooding and combat them by protecting against risks and dealing with the aftermath.
There’s no question many areas of the UK are at risk of flooding from time to time and will be again in the future. There have been several episodes of areas flooding with many graphic images published featuring people rowing down what is usually a busy street, submerged cars, and properties with several feet of water in downstairs rooms. It’s a situation that may not go away in a hurry.
Why is the UK Subject to Flooding?
Climate change that is seeing more areas experience heavy rainfalls over shorter periods is a major cause
; it puts pressure on drainage systems that sometimes simply can’t cope, so they overflow and surface water flooding can result.
For those inhabiting built up areas, the situation is exacerbated by the increase in hard surfaces as areas become more developed. Rain water runs straight off these hard surfaces and into the drains instead of being absorbed naturally as it would if falling on an absorbent surface, such as grass or pastureland.
The Dangers of Flooding
an obvious risk - it’s perhaps more likely perhaps for young children and animals, but adults are at a very real risk, too. Water levels can rise dramatically in certain cases and catch people unaware, so be careful.
A particular drowning risk arises when walking in deeper flood water; if the level underfoot suddenly changes or you lose your footing, then the risk of falling and getting into difficulties in the water can occur.
linked to the above, but this is more specific in terms of sustaining injuries from obstacles you can’t see under the surface of flood water. For example, you could trip on an unseen step or tree root or other obstacle and easily break a bone or sprain an ankle.
water and electricity is a potentially lethal combination. Be very careful if power lines have fallen; they could still be live. If you’re in a flooded building don’t use any electrical appliances and power sockets.
flood water can be highly hazardous to health as it potentially contains all manner of germs and pathogens. Some of the flood water could contain sewage or other hazardous materials washed off a surface - for example chemicals or waste products.
Water that has stood for a while could harbour all sorts of bugs likely to make you ill.
Don’t enter the water - the Environmental Agency (EA) advises against walking through flood water at any time if at all possible due to the above potential risks.
The Aftermath of Flooding
As water levels subside and flood water leaves, there are still safety measures to observe in terms of how to clear up properly and observing health risks
still a risk in that certain surfaces could be hazardous having been underwater for a while. For example, some types of wooden surface may be slippery compared to how they were before the flood so tread carefully to start with.
Infections and Hygiene:
anything that may have contacted dirty flood water could be a hazard to your health. For example, toys or clothing that can’t be cleaned thoroughly may need to be disposed of rather than risk infection.
Don’t take any chances with food that may have been in contact or close proximity to the flood water; throw it away.
There may not be much you can do to stop a river bursting its banks or a major drain from overflowing, but you can take some useful steps to help prevent, or at least minimize, flood damage in the future.
if you suspect any problems with drains in and around your property or general area you can help. Basically the pipework within your property boundary is your responsibility, so the drain linking your property to the water authority’s sewer (usually outside your property’s boundary) is down to you.
Check on your water authority’s website; most have a full explanation usually with graphics of how ‘pipe responsibility’ works.
Keep the drains clear; basic steps such as getting into the habit of not throwing items down the sink that might cause impaired flow and blockages, such as grease, is a good habit to get into. Also, keep debris away from drainage grates such as leaves and other loose matter in the garden.
If you do suspect a blockage or your drain doesn’t seem to be flowing as it should, then calling in an expert to take a look and clean or clear it
Drainage Beyond Your Business
If you suspect drainage issues further away from your property - in other words it’s a problem with the sewers controlled by your water authority - then it’s worth getting in touch with them and reporting it.
Clearly it’s far better to attend to vulnerabilities before a flood risk arises - at least if the drains are in full working order they’ll be more likely to minimise or even fully control the next influx of rain water during a heavy downpour.