25 Days of Flood Awareness: an alternative advent calendar - part one
Date published: 05 December 2018
Photo: Wendy Randall
Rochdale town centre during the Boxing Day floods
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When many of us think of an advent calendar, we picture opening one numbered door a day, behind which is a chocolate treat. But in today’s market, Christmas doesn't have to be all about sweets. In fact, the days of a morning chocolate might very well be numbered with the launch of the ‘alternative advent calendar.’
The alternative advent calendar market has boomed in recent years, meaning you can now have a daily treat of beauty or booze, toys or marshmallows or even luxury food stuffs, to name but a few. So why not an advent calendar that could actually save your life?
Flashing back to Boxing Day 2015, the sweetness of the festive season was the last thing on the minds of many Rochdale residents when their homes and businesses were devastated by some of the worst flooding in living memory brought on by Storm Eva.
Remembering this chaos made us want us want to do something a little bit different to mark the start of the Christmas countdown. So, this year, we have teamed up with the Environment Agency, as they launch their Flood Action Campaign 2018, to bring you an alternative advent calendar that will ensure you, your home and your family are completely flood aware and prepared in time for Christmas.
Day 1 #Prepare – Find out if your property is at risk
Kick off your Flood Awareness Advent by finding if your home or business is at risk of flooding. The Environment Agency along with Local Authorities are continually updating information on flood risk.
Much work has been done by the Environment Agency and local authorities over the past 2 years to update information on flood risk. The flood risk maps will show data on sea and river flooding as well as areas at risk of surface water flooding.
All you need to do is follow the link, type in the post code of the property you’re concerned about and the maps will show you:
- The probability that a location will flood
- The possible causes of flooding
- Where to find advice on managing flood risk
Day 2 #Prepare – Sign up for free Flood Warnings Direct
Now that you know your flood risk, you need to be alerted to possible flooding. Mobile phone customers of EE and Three network are automatically signed up to free flood warnings and will receive an automated text message to their mobile if a flood warning is issued for their area.
If you not a EE or Three customer, the simplest way to know your flood risk is to sign up to the Environment Agency’s free Floodline Warnings Direct service here: www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings
The alerts can be in a number of formats:
- Call to your landline
- Call to your mobile
- Text to your mobile
- Email to your personal or work account.
You can also register for warnings for more than one place, for example if your business has several sites.
To register, call the Targeted Flood Warning Service. This service costs £4,700 a year, but is free for not-for-profit organisations.
Day 3 #Prepare – Know what to do in a flood
Do you know what to do in a flood?
The Environment Agency issues 3 levels of flood warning and familiarising yourself with them now could save you months of misery and thousands of pounds of damage.
Flood Alert: Flooding is possible. Be prepared. Encourage people to be prepared to act on their flood plan, prepare a flood kit of essential items and monitor river levels on the EA website.
Flood Warning: Flooding is expected. Immediate action required. Encourage people to protect themselves and others, move family and pets to a safe place, keep a flood kit ready, turn off gas/electric/water supplies and put flood protection in place.
Severe Flood Warning: Severe flooding. Danger to life. Encourage people to stay in a safe place with means of escape, be ready for potential evacuation, cooperate with police and call 999 if they are in immediate danger.
Day 4 #Prepare – Know how to turn off your gas, electricity and water
If you leave your home during a flood you’ll need to turn off your mains water, gas and electricity if it’s safe to do so. The location of water stopcocks, gas shut-off valves and electrical master switches varies between properties. The gas shut-off valve is usually beside the meter. The mains electricity cut-off is usually a big red switch on your fuse box. If you can’t find your water stopcock, ask someone with practical experience or a plumber to help you.
Day 5 #Prepare – Protect your property
You can make changes to your property that will help you to get back to normal more quickly after a flood and reduce the damage flooding can do.
To reduce flood damage you can take steps such as laying tiles instead of carpets, moving electrical sockets higher up the wall and fitting non-return valves to stop flood water entering your property through the drains.
For more information on advance measures, get the National Flood Forum’s property protection guides for property owners or for local authorities and professionals:
Simple maintenance like keeping drains and gullies clear of debris will also help to protect your property.
Day 6 #Act – Create your personal flood plan
Act now by planning what you would do in a flood. It only takes a few minutes to complete a personal flood plan for your home or business and doing this now will save you valuable time and reduce damage if you’re flooded.
Save a copy of the simple flood plan PDF at the bottom of this article, so you’ll know what to do when there’s a flood warning in your area.
You can also use templates to make your own personal flood plan for:
- your household (www.gov.uk/government/publications/personal-flood-plan)
- your local community or group (www.gov.uk/government/publications/flood-plan-guidance-for-communities-and-groups)
- your business (www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-your-business-for-flooding)
Day 7 #Act – Check your insurance
Make sure you have insurance to protect your home or business. If you have buildings and contents insurance, check if flood damage is included.
If you rent your home, it’s your responsibility to protect your belongings. If you’re finding it difficult to get your property insured for flooding, the National Flood Forum may be able to help: www.nationalfloodforum.org.uk
The Flood Re scheme (www.floodre.co.uk/) works with some insurance providers to reduce the cost of insuring certain homes against flooding.
Our reporter Michelle shares her #JustOneThing
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