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Flooding FAQs Answered

The British weather has been very cruel of late, but more is set to come. With flooding and flood warnings in place across the UK, do you know what to do if your property floods? 

There are a number of hidden dangers when it comes to flood water. While we may think of the financial and emotional cost first and foremost, flooding is also an enormous public health issue. Floodwater is likely to be contaminated with a number of harmful substances - anything from sewerage to fertilizer from fields - that’s why if you are staying in your home, your highest priority has to be access to clean, safe, drinking water.

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE) has issued the following advice to help keep you safe from waterborne problems. If you have been told it is safe for you to stay in your property, this is what you need to do:

1) Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies when floodwater is about to enter your home.

2) Fill up any spare bottles, pots, pans and the bath (presuming it is away from any floodwater on an upper floor) with cold tap water prior to turning the water off.

3) Boil any openly stored water prior to using it. Water kept in a clean sterile container that has a close fitting lid can last for a number of days if kept cool.

4) If handling floodwater, always use waterproof gloves – water will be contaminated, meaning contact with any cuts or grazes can put you at considerable risk. Keep any stored floodwater out of reach of children.

5) Don’t use your stored tap water to flush the toilet – it is too valuable. If you have access to the WC’s cistern, take off the lid and flush your WC with flood water/rain water (using a suitable container) to flush the toilet. Once again, be careful how you handle floodwater.

6) When the flooding has subsided, your complete electrical installation should be checked by a competent electrician. 

7) Though your first thought will be to turn the heating on to dry your property out, it is vital you do not use the boiler or heat sourceuntil it is checked by a registered engineer* either Gas Safe for work on gas, OFTEC for work on oil fired boilers or HETAS for solid fuel.

8) If your boiler has come into contact with floodwater, you are likely to find any submerged electrical components within the boiler will need replacing. Any insulation with the combustion chamber should be checked and replaced if damaged.

9) It’s wise to have your plumbing system flushed out to eradicate any debris and possible contaminants. If you are concerned about contamination, a competent plumber can disinfect the system. 

10) If, after flushing, you still have concerns regarding the colour of the water coming out of the tap, e.g. it is a milky colour, this may be due to turbulence in the mains causing aeration of the water. Leave the water to settle in a glass, whereupon it should clear after a couple of seconds. Do not drink the water if it remains discoloured.

For more flooding advice visit www.ciphe.org.uk/flooding or for a list of professional plumbing and heating engineers to help get your home back on its feet, visit www.ciphe.org.uk, phone 01708 472791 or email info@ciphe.org.uk

*The type of engineer is dependent on the fuel used to power the boiler.