Flooding advice: what to do and who to call
Somerset has been hit by traffic bedlam today after heavy overnight downpours flooded a number of roads.
The A38 was closed between Wellington and Taunton, and many cars were left abandoned on the side of the road after becoming stranded at the height of the flooding.
Other parts of the road were impassable between Wellington and Willand in Devon, but the worst-hit stretch was between the Willowbrook and Blackdown Garden Centres.
But what should you do if you are affected by flooding?
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On the road
Do not travel in heavy rainstorms unless absolutely necessary. Keep an eye on weather reports on local television or listen to local radio
- Do not attempt to drive through flooded roads or fords. The water is often deeper than it looks, and may be moving fast. Your vehicle could be swept away or become stranded
- If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately if safe to do so and seek higher ground
- Do not attempt to walk through flooded areas. Even shallow water moving fast can sweep you off your feet and there may be hidden dangers such as open drains, damaged road surfaces, submerged debris or deep channels - these can cause serious injuries or even death.
The Environment Agency warns six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over, and two feet of water will float your car
- Turn off your gas and electricity supply – ask your supplier how to do this. Mark taps or switches with stickers to help you remember.
After a flood in your home, make sure all electrical circuits are fully dried out and checked by an electrical engineer before switching back on. Failure to do so can cause serious injuries or death.
The National Flood Forum advises that once all electrical safety checks have been made you use a circuit breaker with any electrical equipment you may use in, or to clean or repair your property
- Floodwater may be contaminated, especially by untreated sewage. Wear rubber boots and gloves in and around the affected property
- Wash all cuts and cover with waterproof plasters. Anyone receiving a puncture wound during flood recovery should have a doctor determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary
Small children, pregnant women and people with health problems should avoid floodwater and flooded areas until the clean-up is complete. However, if you do feel unwell or if you accidentally swallow mud or contaminated water and you become ill, you should consult your doctor and tell them your house was flooded
- Be careful when moving in and around property that has been flooded, and when moving any debris that may have been carried onto your property.
Avoid heavy objects that may be unstable and could suddenly move and trap or crush you. Do not attempt to move anything yourself that cannot be lifted comfortably
- If you smell gas call the National Grid on 0800 111 999 or if you spot a potential hazard on or near overhead electricity lines, phone 0800 404 090
How to sort an insurance claim
- Citzens Advice Bureau may be able to offer advice on how to obtain money in an emergency and deal with insurance queries. Visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk to find out more
- In almost all cases your insurance company will send a loss adjuster to look at your property. They will confirm what repairs and replacements are needed and covered by your policy
If they will help pay for repairs that will reduce potential flood damage and therefore reduce costs if it happens again
How long it will be before the loss adjuster visits
If you are to clean your property or if they will get a company to do it for you
- Use a permanent ink pen to mark on the wall the height the flood water got to. Do this in every room affected by flooding. Photograph or video your damaged property and list the damage to your property and belongings
- If your insurance policy covers you for loss of perishable goods, make a list of all the foods you throw away. Include any food touched by flood water and anything in your fridge or freezer ruined by loss of power
- Make a note of all telephone calls. Record the date, name and what was agreed. Keep receipts, and copies of all correspondence
- 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 may be able to help you
Who to call
- The Environment Agency provides the Floodline service on 0845 988 1188. You can listen to recorded flood warning information for your area or speak to an operator for advice 24 hours a day
Sign up for free flood warnings here
- The local council should provide advice about what to do and deal with road closures - click here
- Citzens Advice Bureau - click here
- CIRIA - click here or call 020 7549 3300
- Wash your hands thoroughly if you touch floodwater, as it may be contaminated
- 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 call 999 if you are in danger