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What to do if your holiday home is flooded

Following on from our last post on how to prepare for a flood and the subsequent floods in Cumbria, here is some advice on what to do during a flood and the steps to take if your holiday home is flooded. Always put your safety before property and be prepared to act quickly.

Unfortunately, floods are becoming more frequent and more severe, so be prepared.

sandbag flood protectionWhat to do during a flood

  • Listen to and act on the advice of the emergency services
  • Use your flood kit and put your flood plan into practice (as discussed last week)
  • Put flood protection equipment in place such as sandbags, filled pillowcases and flood boards
  • Move valuables and furniture from downstairs to upstairs – protect what you can
  • Switch off gas, water and electricity at the mains when flood water is about to enter your holiday home – only if it is safe to do so (get a qualified engineer to reconnect them afterwards)
  • Do not touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water
  • Ensuring outdoor furniture is stored in a shed or garage to prevent it floating away
  • Store a supply of clean water and food
  • Move your car to higher ground
  • Put plugs in sinks/baths and weigh them down with a sandbag or a heavy object
  • Lock doors and windows
  • Inform your family on what is happening and how they can contact you

flooded houseWhat should you do after a flood

  • Find out if it’s safe to return to your holiday home as there may be structural damage
  • Beware of hidden dangers in the flood water such as sharp objects, or raised manhole covers – try to avoid walking or driving through it
  • Flood water can be contaminated with sewage, so make sure you wear protective clothing when you clean up – such as waterproofs, gloves, wellington boots and a face mask. Wash your hands thoroughly after
  • Do not try to unblock drains yourself
  • Check that the electricity supply has been switched off at the mains
    -if you aren’t sure the electricity is turned off, get a qualified person to do this
    -don’t touch sources of electricity while standing in floodwater
    -get any electrical appliances that have come into contact with flood water
    checked by a qualified electrician before using them again
  • Try to recover valuables that might be repairable
  • Clear standing water once flood water subsides
  • Try to take reasonable steps to mitigate your loss – carry out temporary repairs if these will prevent any further damage, and keep receipts to support your claim

Contact your insurance company

It is important to ring your buildings and contents insurance company as soon as possible. In most cases the insurance company will send a loss adjuster to assess the damage. They will confirm what repairs and replacements are needed, and what is covered by your policy. They will advise you on what to do to dry and repair your holiday home and will usually appoint professional cleaners.

Don’t throw away any damaged items until your insurer says you can dispose of them and take photographs of any damage to support your insurance claim.

Make sure your home insurance covers flood damage

Unfortunately, the very nature of flash flooding means that those with holiday homes hundreds of miles from their main residence, may be unable to get to their holiday homes in time to prevent flood damage. Therefore, it is essential that to be adequately insured for flood damage, you check that your home insurance;

  • Buildings sum insured is correct – don’t be under insured
  • Contents insurance replaces damaged items on a new for old basis
  • Pays for the cost of alternative accommodation if your holiday home is occupied when it’s flooded
  • Provides loss of rental income should you have to cancel future bookings due to flood damage

Useful flood advice:
Environment Agency – Advice on what to do to during a flood and clearing up afterwards.

The National Flood Forum – two excellent pdf guides: After you have been flooded and Managing a major flood claim

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