Flood in Windsor, Berkshire (xlucie-langx/Bigstock.com)

Storms and floods affect millions of people in the UK each year, often putting property – and sometimes lives – at risk. While these extreme weather events cannot be prevented, much can be done to minimise the risks to people and property.

Severe gales/storms

Between 1962 and 1995, 184 people lost their lives as a result of building failures in the UK, most of which were domestic properties. In addition, storm damage costs around £300m annually.1

What to do…
  • Tie down or otherwise secure any loose items that might damage windows in a storm. Ladders, outdoor furniture and garden tools are just some of the objects that may pose a risk.
  • Ensure windows and doors are securely closed, especially on the windward side of the property. Garage and other large doors should be securely shut.
  • If you have a garage available, park your car inside. If you don’t, ensure your vehicle is positioned away from buildings, trees, telegraph poles, fences, and walls.
  • Tall and/or structurally unsound chimneys may pose a risk; if any beds are located in the area immediately around the stack, move them to a safe location.

  • Avoid going outdoors.
  • If you do need to go out, try not to use buildings, walls or trees as shelter.
  • If they collapse, walls and fences will do so on the sheltered side.
  • Do not attempt any repairs while the storm is still taking place.
  • Enter/exit your property via doors on the sheltered side – if possible.
  • Minimise opening internal doors, and ensure they are closed straight away.
  • Driving: avoid exposed roads and bridges. Be aware of side winds and avoid towing. Those in high-sided vehicles should take extra care. If you can, postpone any road journeys until the storm is over.

  • Do not touch any downed/damaged telephone/electrical cables.
  • Avoid walking too close to buildings, walls and trees as they may have been damaged and could collapse.
  • Call in on any elderly or vulnerable neighbours/relatives and ensure they are safe. Help with organising any repairs.

Preparing for flooding
  • Find out if your area is at risk of flooding by visiting Floodline.
  • Keep updated with TV and radio weather reports.
  • Tell any vulnerable neighbours about any flood risk.
  • Put together an emergency kit with important numbers, first aid items, water and a torch.
  • View a list of emergency contact numbers here.
  • Organise items for evacuation: medication, toiletries, clothing, and children’s items.
  • Buy empty sandbags from hardware shops. Be aware these may sell out as news of the flood risk spreads.
  • Remove food from fridges and freezers, and leave the doors open.
  • If possible park any vehicles in locations likely to be above the flood line.
  • Take photos of items to support any later insurance claim.
  • Turn off water and mains power; collect mobiles and their chargers.
  • Place sandbags in toilet bowls to stop any back-flow of sewage.
  • Lock shut windows and doors and retrieve all pets.

  • Stay in a safe place.
  • Avoid floodwater – whether walking or driving. Just a few inches can knock a person off their feet; while two feet of water can float a car.
  • Try not to come into contact with floodwater, it may well be contaminated with sewage. Wash hands thoroughly if you've been exposed to floodwater.
  • Keep children away from floodwater.
  • If you are supported by social services you should be contacted by them to ensure you are safe.
  • Where to go if you need to leave your home: your council will provide accommodation in the form of a rest centre or other shelter.

  • Do not use gas or electrical items until they have been deemed safe.
  • Throw away any food that may have been in contact with floodwater.

Flood risks that may not be related to the weather.

Flooding can also affect properties if a drain or pipe has been blocked, or if a pipe has burst. If you have Home Emergency Insurance you may benefit from 24 hour call-out and repairs up to a certain limit.

Coming soon...

Home Emergency Insurance from startrescue.co.uk

Startrescue.co.uk provides Home Emergency Insurance to people across the UK. Alongside cover for flood risks associated with damaged/blocked drains and pipes, our cover also protects against pest infestations, boiler breakdowns and many other events.



1 Source Windstorms: The Facts - report for ABI 2000