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Flood Advice: What you should do

WHAT TO DO DURING A FLOOD

The Environment Agency - which is responsible for England and Wales - says that in the event of a flood, it is vital to put people before property, co-operate with the emergency services if they tell you to evacuate your home and be prepared to act quickly to get yourself to safety.

In the event of an emergency, the agency urges people take the following precautions:

•Gather essential items together either upstairs or in a high place - have torches, medication and waterproofs to hand

•Fill jugs and saucepans with clean water

•Move your family and pets upstairs or to a high place with a means of escape

•Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies when flood water is about to enter your home, if it is safe to do so

•Do not on any account touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water

•Keep listening to local radio for updates or call the Environment Agency Floodline on 0845 988 1188

•Flood water can rise quickly; stay calm and reassure those around you. Call 999 if you are in danger

The agency adds that it is important to remember flood water is dangerous and you should avoid walking or driving through it and you should wash your hands thoroughly if you touch it. Do not try to unblock drains yourself.

USEFUL LINKS AND NUMBERS

Landlord:  0300 1234 009

Fire Brigade/Emergency Services: 999

Environment Agency Floodline on 0845 988 1188

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO AFTER A FLOOD?

The Environment Agency says the first thing to do is find out if it is safe to return to your property.

It said there might be hidden dangers in the flood water such as sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollution, and the flooding could have caused structural damage, making a building unsafe.

It is important to phone your buildings and contents insurance company as soon as possible.

People should be prepared for the fact that they might not be able to move back in quickly.

In almost all cases the insurance company will send a loss adjuster to look at your property. They will confirm what repairs and replacements are needed and are covered by your policy.

If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.

If you do not have insurance, your local council should be able to provide information on hardship grants or charities that might be able to help you.

The National Flood Forum (NFF), a charity which supports flood victims, suggests that you photograph everything - the structure, appliances, furniture and contents, watermarks etc.

If you or your family have had to move out or need to leave the area, the NFF advises that you make realistic decisions.

It says many houses will take six or nine months, or even longer depending on the type of construction, to dry and become habitable.

You may have to live in your house while the loss adjuster arrives and tells you what will happen.

In the meantime make a list of what has been damaged and keep it somewhere safe. If you have a camera (a cheap disposable one will do) or a video camcorder take pictures of everything.

Recover valuables, keepsakes etc and put them somewhere safe. Use rubber gloves when you are handling them and put them in bags or boxes in a safe place. Most articles can be professionally restored so do not make rash decisions.

Your insurance company via your loss adjusters will arrange for a professional cleaning company to come and undertake all of the work or if the damage is severe appoint a 'strip out' contractor to remove flood damaged walls and floors plus damaged goods. This will include kitchen units and all electrical fittings.