After the floods: advice for residents
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Electricity and safety precautions after flooding (external site)
Adapted from literature produced by Public Health England
Talk to your insurance company and follow their advice. If it will take a number of days for a loss adjustor to visit your home, you may need to throw things away. If this is the case use common sense to provide evidence of what you have thrown away. Take several photographs of everything you dispose of and write down details such as the make and serial number of the products. If you need to get rid of flood damaged carpets, cut off and keep samples. From: Association of British Insurers leaflet
Wear rubber boots, waterproof gloves and an apron to clean up. If cleaning causes a lot of water to splash from scrubbing, hosing or pressure-washing, wear a standard face mask, such as those sold by DIY stores. Goggles offer added protection and they can be reused after thorough washing. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after each clean-up session. Keep open cuts or sores clean and use waterproof plasters to prevent them being exposed to floodwater.
Take care with electrics and gas: Do not turn on gas or electrics if they may have got wet. Only turn them on when they have been checked by a qualified technician.
How and what to clean
Wash clothes used for cleaning on a separate cycle from your other clothes.
Clean all hard surfaces (eg walls, floors) with hot water and detergent.
Clean and disinfect work surfaces, plates, pans, cutlery, chopping boards etc. before using them with food. If you have a working dishwasher, this is a more efficient way to clean and sanitise smaller items. Throw away wooden chopping boards and wooden spoons if contaminated by floodwater.
Wash soft items (eg clothing, bedding and children’s toys) on a 60°C cycle with detergent. If you suspect problems with your drainage system, it is recommended that a launderette be used for washing large quantities of clothes and linens until your waste-water system has been checked.
Ensure good ventilation if using portable indoor heating appliances to dry out indoor spaces. Do not use petrol or diesel generators or other similar fuel-driven equipment indoors: the exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide, which can kill.
Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can also help dry out your home. If you have gas or oil central heating and it has been checked by an engineer, turn it on. Keep the thermostat between 20°C to 22°C for steady drying if you have air bricks to any under floor spaces, ensure that these are unblocked to give cross ventilation to these areas. As floorboards and walls continue to dry out, any loose material and dust resulting from this should be vacuumed up on a regular basis.
When you can, remove dirty water and silt from the property including the space under the ground floor if you have wooden floors. This space may need pumping out
Mould should disappear as your home dries out but if it persists, contact a specialist cleaner.
Place rubbish in your wheelie bin.
Dispose of dead rodents and pests in a plastic bag, wearing rubber gloves.
Your insurer or loss adjuster may appoint a specialist drying company to disinfect and dry your home. At the end of this process, they will then certify that your home is dry enough for repair work to start.
Gardens and allotments
Wear boots and rubber gloves to clean-up and cover all open wounds.
Ensure hands are washed thoroughly afterwards.
Remove all solid waste.
Clean all hard surfaces (e.g. walls, floors) with hot water and a household detergent.
Do not let young children play on affected grassed or paved areas until they have been cleaned down and are back to their normal condition.
Sunlight will help destroy harmful bacteria so grass areas should be safe to use after 3-4 weeks after flooding depending on the environmental conditions.
Do not eat any fruit/vegetables growing in your garden that has been covered in flood water.
Don’t let your pet drink flood water. If there is still a lot of flood water around, keep your dog on a lead and limit access to affected areas.
If your garden has been affected by flood water keep pets away until the clean-up has been completed. Make sure all obvious signs of contamination and rubbish are gone from your garden.
Clean away any mud and dry your pet well after being outdoors.
Wash your own and your children’s hands regularly when handling a pet that has been outdoors.
- 2 May 2014 Winchester City Council on sandbag removal
- 2 May 2014 Test Valley Borough Council on sandbag removal
Sandbags which have not come into contact with contaminated water can be kept for future use, emptied and dug into soil, or taken to recycling centres.
Empty sand bags can be placed in household bins for normal kerbside collections but not full sandbags because they are too heavy for the lifting equipment on refuse collection vehicles.
Even if it is not contaminated, the sand is not suitable for children's sand pits or for any other play.
Please take appropriate precautions when handling used sandbags, such as wearing protective gloves, and taking care when lifting.
Where sandbags have been deployed by local authorities to whole streets or neighbourhoods, the local council will take responsibility for their collection and will arrange for the sandbags to be taken away for recycling at an appropriate time.
Sandbags deployed in large numbers have already been assessed for contamination. Sandbags have been classified as not
contaminated if they:
- have been deployed to retain surface water / ground water, which has had no or short term and limited exposer to sewage.
- do not smell of sewage or oil
- have no visual signs of being contaminated by sewage or oil
Used sandbags have been classified as contaminated if they:
- have been deployed to retain raw sewage
- have been deployed to protect / retain sources of oil
- have been deployed to retain water which has had contact with sewage or oil
- smell of sewage or oil
- show visual signs of being contaminated by sewage or oil
A summary of the Government schemes available is set out below, but for full details see the GOV.UK page:
Council Tax flood discount
The Government has announced that funding will be made available to local councils to deliver a discount to customers in relation to the recent adverse weather conditions, and has published some broad guidance.
Further details will be published as soon as the schemes have been set up.
Repair and Renew Grant
In February 2014 the Prime Minister announced a new scheme to provide grants of up to £5,000 to homeowners and businesses that had been flooded. The repair and renew grant is for funding additional flood resilience or resistance measures for homes and businesses that have been flooded since 1 December 2013.
HMRC tax helpline
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have set up a dedicated helpline to provide tax advice and assistance to those who have been affected by flooding.
Telephone 0800 904 7900:
- Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm
- Saturday and Sunday 8am to 4pm
HMRC may be able to:
- agree installment arrangements where taxpayers are unable to pay as a result of the floods
- agree a practical approach when individuals and businesses have lost vital records to the floods
- suspend debt collection proceedings for those affected by the floods
- cancel penalties when the taxpayer has missed statutory deadlines