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Storm watch: how to prepare for summer flash floods

By Sophia Wood-Burgess

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Do you remember the flash flooding in London last summer? It is that time of year again, where big storms blow through with very little warning. Especially if you own a property or are a Tenant in an apartment at ground or basement level, it’s important to prepare for flood season.

Here are the government guidelines on flood alerts and official advice. If you are in immediate danger, call 999.

The quick facts on flash floods

How do flash floods happen?

Flash flooding happens during heavy rains, when the water can’t be absorbed or drain away fast enough.

Where does flash flooding commonly occur?

They particularly affects basement, garden and riverside flats – anywhere that water can collect quickly.

When do flash floods happen?

Although they can occur anytime, summer storms can easily cause flash flooding, especially when a heavy storm follows a long dry spell. Unfortunately, the UK Government predicts we’ll see more frequent flooding due to climate change.

How to prepare a flood emergency kit

It’s a good idea to prepare an easily accessible flood kit, including things like emergency phone numbers, phone chargers, any medication you might need, a first aid kit, non-perishable food/baby food/pet food, emergency cash, blankets, bottled water, ID, insurance documents, waterproof boots and clothes, etc.

Ensure you're insured

Especially if you’re in a high-risk area for flooding, you’ll want to be sure that your contents and building insurance covers flood damage. If you’re having trouble finding an insurer who does flood insurance for high risk properties, see the Government-backed programme Flood Re.

Learn where and how to turn off your water, gas and electricity

In any case, it is useful to know where the water stopcock, gas shut-off valve and electricity mains switch are located. New Tenants should ask for this information and Landlords should provide it on move in. In the event of a flood, you should turn these all off, so long as it is safe for you to do so.

Keep drains clear

If you are the property owner, drainage pipes on your property are your responsibility. Keep an eye out for blocked and overflowing drains and gutters. If your property has a high risk of drainage issues, it’s a good idea to get in contact with a drain clearing company and make a spring clean part of your yearly upkeep.

For Tenants, if you see a gutter or drain is blocked, speak to your Landlord or contact us on My Foxtons.

What to do in the event of a flood

Key Contacts:

If there is immediate danger, call 999.

• The Greater London Authority has insight and useful resources, as does the National Flood Forum.

• Check the risk for flooding in your area and sign up for flood warnings through the Met Office.

• See area-specific information and contact numbers from your local council.

For Tenants: if your Landlord is self-managing the property, you’ll want to get in touch with them ASAP. If Foxtons is managing your property for your Landlord, you can easily inform us of any flooding or damage on your My Foxtons account, we’ll handle the rest.

What to do after a flood

Here are some tips on what to do in the immediate aftermath of a flood:

Do not enter a flooded property until you sure it is structurally safe to do so. This may include waiting until it is confirmed safe by a professional.

Do not turn on electricity or gas. These will also need to be checked by a qualified electrician and engineer.

• Gas leaks can occur in flooding, so do not smoke or use open flames until the property has been.

For Landlords: if flood damage occurs, you are legally responsible for returning your property to good condition. Especially if you are in a high-risk area, it’s a good idea to ensure your insurance covers flood-related costs.

Protect your asset

A flooded property can be extremely stressful for both the Landlord and the Tenant, but if yours is managed through Foxtons Property Management, you both can rest assured. Our team of experts will handle everything including insurance claims, rehousing your tenants while the work is done, and facilitating works through our network of vetted, skilled contractors and tradesmen.

Learn more about Foxtons Property Management.

Safeguard your home from future flood damage

If you are a homeowner or Landlord, you can talk to an independent flood risk assessor about which flood-resistant and flood-resilient measures may benefit your property. Through the Property Protection Advisor tool on the National Flood Forum, you can get an estimate of what flood resistance measures would cost (on average) for a property like yours, which is a good place to start.

To sum it all up…

Summers in London are excellent. There are outdoor concerts, markets, festivals and plenty of parks and commons where we can enjoy the beautiful weather. However, that sunshine can change to rainclouds fast, so you’ll need to be prepared.

London is likely to experience flash flooding this season. Although you can’t always avoid flood damage, you can prepare your response to better protect yourself, your family, your home and your possessions.

In the event of a flood, call 999 for immediate danger and contact your local council for area-specific information. Notify your Landlord if you are a Tenant or, if we manage your tenancy, notify Foxtons through your account.

Further reading




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