Tue 14 Feb 2017
My home is in an area that's prone to flooding. What do I need to do if disaster strikes?
- Do not touch the electrics - even if the area looks dry - to avoid the risk of electrocuting yourself
- Avoid exposing items of furniture to extreme levels of heat (in an attempt to dry them out) as this could result in further damage
- After the flood water has receded, be careful of what you touch as it could be contaminated with viruses such as E.coli or salmonella
Russ Hargreaves, general insurer manager at Yorkshire Building Society, said: 'The floods at the end of 2015 were devastating. Most people don't expect to be affected by flooding until it happens, but knowing what to do if you are affected can be a tremendous help - not only when it comes to limiting the damage, but also for the stress these events tend to cause.
'Your insurance provider will obviously be on hand to help and provide advice, but having some knowledge beforehand will speed things up and help you to better manage the situation.
'The first thing you need to do is contact your insurer. They will be able to provide you with what you need to address the situation. You will need your policy number when doing this, so make sure your policy documents are kept in a safe place in case you need them.
Avoid touching the electrics
'Next, it is really important that you do not touch the electrics. Even if the area looks dry, it's best to keep away to avoid any risk of electrocuting yourself.
Close the windows by mid-afternoon
'It may seem obvious but open all of the windows once the flood water has started to recede, if the weather allows you to – the air outside the house will be less moist than the air inside, so it can help to dry out the house. By mid-afternoon, the air outside will be moist, so close your windows and put your heating back on.
Avoid extreme heat
'However, be careful when drying out items. Although you will instinctively want to dry items as quickly as possible, do not expose them to extreme levels of heat as this could result in further damage.
'When it comes to drying important things like paperwork, leave them to dry naturally. When salvaging these photos/paperwork, remove excess water and keep them tightly together. Leave them to dry away from a source of heat and leave a de-humidifier running in every affected room (your insurer should provide you with a de-humidifier).
Be aware of potential viruses
'After the flood water has receded, mind what you touch as it may be contaminated. It could be harmful to you and your family, as flood water could potentially carry viruses such as E.coli or salmonella, so you will need to be extremely careful and make sure that you regularly wash your hands.
'The next step is to clean out fridges and freezers as soon as possible. If you have the relevant insurance cover, remember to keep a list of food items for your claim and, if possible, take a photograph.
'It is also important to store damaged furniture and fittings in a dry place. They may have a salvage value or could be repairable. Either way they will need to be inspected.
Remove rubber-backed carpets
'Remove all soaked rubber-backed carpets and leave them in the garden. These will have to be replaced regardless, so it's worth taking them out of the house to allow the rest of the room to dry. Leave hessian-backed carpets on the floor to dry, as they will shrink if they are lifted. Once they are dry, the carpets can be lifted to dry the areas underneath.
Do not redecorate straight away
'And finally, do not attempt to redecorate straight away. It may take months for a property to dry out properly, and your insurer will be able to advise you on the appropriate amount of time you should wait before redecorating. It is important to check with a decorator or other experts to ensure that the walls and other surfaces are fully dried out before any work is carried out.'
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