Floods are an inevitable part of life in Ireland with a greater frequency than ever before affecting nearly all of the country. Floods are usually caused by a combination of events including overflowing river banks, coastal storms or blocked or overloaded drainage ditches. Numerous severe floods have occurred throughout the country in the last decade. It is widely anticipated that changes in rainfall patterns and rises in sea levels resulting from climate change may make such flooding incidents more frequent and severe in the future. If you live in a flood prone area it is very important that you make the necessary preparations without delay.
- Has your home flooded in the past.
- Has flooding previously occurred in the area.
- Is your home near an open water source .ie Lake, River, Stream, Sea, Ditches or Drains.
- Is your home in a low-lying or hollow area where floodwater could collect.
If you are unsure whether previous flooding has occurred in your area or whether it may be prone to flooding, information is available on the Office of Public Works website www.floodmaps.ie which can also be accessed via the main OPW website www.opw.ie
The following are a list of preventative measures which you could make to improve matters in the event of a flood.
- Stay vigilant and regularly inspect your property for cracks or gaps in the brickwork and floors or around windows, doors and pipes.
- To improve the flood proofing of your walls you can use products such as liquid membranes, polymer/cement coatings, mastic asphalt or pre formed sheet membranes.
- To improve the flood resistance of your windows and doors ensure that the seal around the frames is intact and has no cracks and treat any wooden frames with oil based waterproof stains, paint or varnish.
- Make sure that any streams, rivers or lakes on your property are able to flow. Check for blockages in the stream and ensure that the banks have not eroded.
- Always ensure that you have a stock of materials which are useful during a flood, such as plywood, plastic sheeting, sandbags (unfilled), sand, nails, a hammer, shovel, bricks, blocks of wood and a saw.
- If you live in a flood risk area it is always a good idea to store any sentimental personal items upstairs or above the highest possible flood level as these are impossible to replace. The same is true of bank and insurance details as well as essential contact numbers.
- Valuable items, such as computers, televisions, etc., should also be stored if possible above ground level. A computer, for example, should be kept on the table or desk rather than under it.
- STAY SAFE – Floods can kill. Don’t try to walk or drive through floodwater – six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over and two feet of water will float your car. Manhole covers may have come off and there may be other hazards you can’t see.
- Try and avoid contact with floodwater as it may be contaminate with sewage.
- Be prepared to evacuate your home. The most important thing is to protect yourself, your family and others that need your help.
IF SAFE TO DO SO:
- Move valuables and other items to safety. Place them above the flood level or upstairs.
- Turn off the Gas and Electricity.
- Unplug All Electrical items and store above the flood level.
- Put sandbags at any openings where the water could gain access.
- Disconnect cookers, washing machines, dishwashers, etc., connected by ridged pipes to prevent damaging the machine and the pipes.
- Empty furniture that cannot be moved and put the contents upstairs.
- Co-operate with emergency services and local authorities. You may be evacuated to emergency centres.
- Move any items kept outside such as garden furniture to higher ground. Remember that floodwater could get into your garage so move any chemicals or fuel to ensure that they do not spill into the floodwater and cause damage.
- Close off the flow valves on propane tanks, oil drums, or other fuel containers that supply your home through pipes and fittings.
- Use sandbags or floodboards on greenhouses and sheds.
Do not throw anything away as your Insurance Company may wish to inspect the damaged items.
Before you attempt to re-enter your property after it has been flooded you must have a qualified person check the buildings to ensure it is safe to do so.
Once you are satisfied that it is safe to enter your property there are a few things you must do before you start to clean.
- Record the damage caused by the flood on a camera or video recorder.
- Mark the water levels on the walls for reference.
- Check with your insurance company. They will usually pay for any clearing up, cleaning and sanitising following a flood. You may also be entitled to other assistance as well.
- Always make sure your insurance company has given approval before any work is carried out.
Full details of the precautions you should take when re-entering your property and advice on cleaning up your house can be found on the OPW Website