The media is reporting heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours. So when (or if) it comes, is there anything we can do to protect ourselves – and our premiums - or do we just sit it out, with our entire faith firmly placed in our insurance policies and little else?
The Met Office has issued a ‘yellow warning of rain’ for today and tomorrow. But what does that actually mean? Specifically it warns that “rain is likely to be both persistent and heavy at times. Also, a risk of thunder; most likely over parts of England and Wales. The rain will tend to clear from the West through the day, whilst generally becoming less heavy, and will probably become confined to Eastern UK by the end of Friday. There is, however, a risk that intense thundery downpours may develop again during the late afternoon and evening across South East England and East Anglia. The public should be aware of a significant risk of localised disruption due to surface water flooding. Lightning may be an additional hazard.”
If you live in a flood risk area, you will already be painfully aware of the impact this may have on you. For the rest of us, it may be that you experience an unprecedented deluge that affects you severely, either at home or on the road.
Flood water is dangerous - six inches of fast-flowing water can knock over an adult and two feet of water can move a car. Driving through standing water is extremely dangerous, so avoid it whenever you can. If you can’t circumnavigate, the AA gives the following advice:
- Use your headlights when visibility is seriously reduced - generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet)(Highway Code).
- You may use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves (Highway Code).
- Stopping distances increase on wet roads. Double the distance you leave between you and the car in front.
- If steering becomes unresponsive due to the rain, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
- Don't enter flood water that is moving or more than 10cm (4 inches) deep.
- Allow oncoming traffic to pass first and drive slowly and steadily to avoid creating a bow wave.
- Test your brakes as soon as you can after leaving the water.
- Don't try driving through fast-moving water, such as at a flooded bridge approach – your car could easily be swept away.
- Slow down and try to avoid standing water if you can.
When driving through water, tyres can lose contact with the road and you can potentially lose steering control in what's known as 'aquaplaning'. If you do experience this, it is recommended that you hold the steering wheel lightly and lift off the throttle until the tyres regain grip. You should, of course, give consideration to other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Driving through water at speeds, or anything above a slow crawl, throws water onto pavements, potentially soaking pedestrians or cyclists. Offenders can face a hefty fine and 3-9 points if the police believe you were driving without reasonable consideration for other road users. The air intake on many cars is low down at the front of the engine bay and it only takes a small quantity of water sucked into the engine to cause serious damage. All engines are affected, but turbo-charged and diesel engines are most vulnerable. As you drive slowly through standing water, use a low gear so the engine rev's are higher; water in the exhaust could otherwise damage the catalytic converter.s
With all extreme weather conditions ,stay safe and listen to the advice of the emergency services. Evacuate as soon as possible if told to do so. If water starts to enter your home, flood agencies recommend that you:
- Gather essential items together, either upstairs or in a high place.
- Fill jugs and saucepans with clean water.
- Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies when flood water is about to enter your home and if safe to do so. DO NOT touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water.
Furthermore, when the waters have subsided sufficiently you should:
Find out from the emergency services if it is safe to re-enter your property.
Take care when re-entering your property, as there may be hidden dangers caused by flooding such as structural damage and contamination.
Ring your buildings and contents insurance companies.
Take photos of the damage to your property.
Stay safe people!
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