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Flood Defence: Frequently Asked Questions

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 2 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Flood Defence Flood Map Environment

If your home is one of the two million estimated to be at risk of flooding then what can you do to help protect it?

To help ease your concerns, we answer some frequently asked questions about flood defence.

Is My Home at Risk of Flooding?

Despite attempts to increase awareness, many people living in flood plains are still not aware that they are at risk of flooding. Homeowners and businesses can now determine the risk to their property from flooding with the aid of the Environment Agency’s Flood Map.

What is the Flood Map?

The Flood Map is designed to improve awareness about the likelihood of flooding, and encourage those living and working in risk areas to learn more about their situation and take appropriate action.

By simply entering their postcode, users receive a visual illustration of the flooding risk around their property. This includes an indication of whether the risk is seen to be 'low', 'moderate' or 'significant'.

Will Anyone Warn me if a Flood is Due?

If you live in a high risk flood area, you can sign up to the Environment Agency’s early flood warning system. The public body also offer information on what flood warnings are in force in any parts of England and Wales at that time.

Will My Insurance Protect My Home in the Event of a Flood?

It is advisable to ensure that your building and contents insurance policy covers you for flooding. It is also worth checking to see whether in the event of a flood damaged belongings would be replaced with new items, and also whether you have not underestimated the value of your home contents.

The Environment Agency offer additional information on how living in a flood risk area may affect your insurance.

Can I Protect My Home with Flood Defences?

Yes. There are several flood protection products available to help stop a flood damaging both your home and belongings. These include sandbags, floodboards and covers to seal airbricks.

When buying any items it's important to only opt for products that have been awarded a British Standards Institution (BSI) Kitemark, an indicator of quality for consumer items.

What Help are Sandbags?

Sandbags provide first line of defence against flooding. Although local councils will likely make sandbags available during a flood crisis, it is worthwhile buying your own in case supplies are limited. Alternatively, you could make your own by buying sand and bags separately, or even just by filling plastic bags or pillowcases with earth.

What are Floodboards?

Floodboards – or flood barriers – are removable barriers that fix to frames around windows and doors in order to seal the opening. These can be washed, stored and used again.

What are Plastic Covers to Seal Airbricks?

Often overlooked is the fact that floodwater can get into a property through air bricks if they are not properly sealed. Plastic removable covers are available to prevent this.

Aren’t There Public Flood Defences in Place to Protect My Home?

Public flood defences - such as embankments and walls, and flood storage areas – are in place and do play a crucial role, but the sheer volume of water that the UK has been subjected to in recent flood emergencies has meant that many are now unable to cope.

Who is Responsible for Public Flood Defences?

There is no one organisation in charge of flood defences. The responsibility for averting and managing flooding is assumed by several different organisations, including water companies, local authorities, the Environment Agency, flood defence committees, developers and even farmers. This ‘institutional confusion’ has been heavily criticised.

Is the Government Investing in Flood Defence?

In the last few years the government has made huge increases in flood defence expenditure.

Will This Protect Everyone at Risk of Flooding?

Flood defence projects are largely focused on areas where the investment will see the largest results. This means that highly-populated flood plains will therefore receive greater defence protection than the more sparsely populated areas.

Is Flooding a Symptom of Climate Change?

Flooding itself is not a symptom of climate change. However, it is believed that the increased unpredictability and intensity of the flooding that the UK has experienced in recent years comes as a consequence of human activities on earth.

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