Flash flooding is on the rise, and it’s due to large amounts of rain falling in built-up areas over a short amount of time, such as during summer thunderstorms.
Increasing urban populations have led to more roads, less open ground and fewer gardens. So, during heavy downpours, drainage systems are more likely to be overwhelmed, and water can flood into people’s homes.
And while a large proportion of flooding occurs in the wettest season, winter, it’s becoming increasingly common in summer too.
Flash floods are increasing in summer
The UK’s Met Office says that as a result of climate change the UK will experience ‘hotter and drier summers’ that contain ‘more intense downpours during summer thunderstorms’.*
Flash flooding is therefore typically more localised in nature, and when and where it will hit is less easy to predict than flooding from rivers or the sea.
Is your home at risk?
In the UK, many homes are built in areas at risk of flooding. Around 3 million by surface water runoff – sometimes caused by flash floods – and another 2.7 million from rivers and the sea.**
You can check which category of flood risk your home falls into and sign up for flood warnings using the Government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk.
What to do if a flash flood is imminent
Summer flash floods are unpredictable and can happen quickly. If the weather takes a turn for the worst, here are a few steps you can take to help minimise the damage caused, especially if you need to act fast:
- Move furniture, soft furnishings and electronics – including tables, chairs, rugs, curtains, TVs and laptops – to an upper floor
- Important documents – such as passports, drivers licences and home insurance details – should also be moved to a safe place at a higher level
- Wedge old clothes, towels and blankets into gaps under and around external facing doors and windows – this won’t completely prevent water seeping through, but it should reduce how much does
- Secure garden furniture in storage areas such as garages or sheds, or, again, move into the house on an upper floor
- Switch off utilities – such as the water, gas and electric – at the mains switches and valves
- Put together an emergency kit – which might consist of a torch, first aid kit, prescription drugs, spare battery chargers, water, blankets, pillows, matches and candles. Also, fully charge mobile phones and tablets
If you live in a high-risk flood area, then flash floods aside, you’ll probably want to invest in some longer-term solutions to help reduce any potential damage caused by a flood.
- Non-return valves fitted to drains, pipes and toilets to prevent wastewater flowing back up during flooding
- Electrical sockets, power-points and electrical items moved above 1.5metres
- Replace wooden flooring with tiles, which are less likely to be damaged by water
- Removable flood barriers bought for doors and windows
- ‘Tanking’ any basement rooms and cellars – essentially sealing the walls and floors so that water can’t get through
- Consider replacing existing air bricks with ones that are water-resistant
- Landscaping outside areas to help divert water away from your property
Although the risk of flooding varies depending on where you live, it’s always worth having a plan in place so that should a major peril like flooding occurs, you’re ready to leap into action.