Your safety after a flood in your home

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1 Your safety after a flood in your home We understand that if you have suffered a flood in your property it can be a very distressing time for you and your family. We hope that this advice provides you with the information you need to stop further damage to your home and help you recover as quickly as possible. General information Buildings and garden walls Severe flooding can cause damage to buildings and garden walls. If you think damage has occurred you can get advice from: Local authority environmental health department. Local authority building control department. Landlord to arrange a safety inspection. Prevent mould growth Your property will be wet from the flood; because of this mould can start to grow. A mouldy building can trigger asthma. You should start drying the property as soon as possible. You may not be able to find water trapped under floors or in wall cavities and you may need a specialist drying company. Insurers will normally pay for this work. Safety with food Do not use food contaminated by floodwater. If in doubt throw it out. Safety with electrical supplies, temporary lighting and heating Remember water conducts electricity and you can be electrocuted. Damaged or wet electrical appliances must be isolated or unplugged. Don t use electrical items until a competent person checks them. TV sets store an electrical charge for several hours, so keep away from water. Generators should be sited outside as they give off fumes that can kill. Building repair work Once work has started on your property you may not be able to go in to your property for Health and Safety reasons. The builders insurance will not cover you. Pet safety Injured animals or those you think may be affected by smoke or heat should be taken to a vet straight away. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) or PDSA (People s Dispensary for Sick Animals) give help and advice. What type of water is it?

2 If your property has been flooded you need to find out where it has come from. Try to find out if it is clean or dirty water. Clean water usually comes from within the property from a water pipe or supply hose to a washing machine. Leaks and floods are usually smaller and you may be able to clean up yourself Dirty water can come from within the property s sewage or heating system or from outside the property. Avoid contact with any contaminated water and take great care with personal and food hygiene. Thorough cleaning is vital and insurers will normally pay. Cleaning up after a flood The harmful effect of water is reduced a great deal by acting quickly. Specialist firms can help you with appropriate equipment and expert knowledge. This will help you get back into your property faster. Don t forget to contact your insurance company or landlord/council first before arranging for a company to clean up. Do: Keep your freezer closed if electricity is likely to be restored within 24 hours and the freezer has not been affected by water. Remove as much water as possible by mopping or using a vacuum that is made to take up water if fitted with a safety cut-out. Blot small areas with clean white towels to avoid any colour transfer. Wipe water from wood after removal of tabletop items. Remove and prop up upholstery cushions for even drying. Check that dye does not run onto other surfaces. Place aluminium foil, china saucers or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet to prevent absorption of water and swelling in the furniture legs. Open drawers and cabinet doors to air-dry but do not force them open. Remove valuable oil paintings and art objects to a safe, dry place. Make small holes into sagging plaster ceilings to release trapped water and place buckets beneath. Note: artex used in the 1990s may contain asbestos - contact an environmental health officer (see the useful contacts page later in this booklet). Keep out of rooms where ceilings are weakened or wet - older ceilings may be lath and plaster, which does not sag, but is very heavy and can suddenly fall. Open windows and turn on heating to assist drying, but only after your gas or electrical mains supply has been checked by a qualified person. Place damaged photos and documents in plastic bags and freeze for later inspection. Wrap books in cling film to maintain the binding before freezing. Stuff purses and shoes with newspapers to make sure they retain their shape. Suitcases should be left open and allowed to dry naturally. Use dehumidifiers to remove water from the atmosphere, you can hire these from tool hire companies. Don t: Walk mud upstairs; change footwear to keep carpets clean. Leave books, magazines or other coloured items on wet carpets to stop the dye going into the carpet.

3 Use your normal dry household vacuum to remove water. Use TV or other appliances while standing on a wet carpet or floor. A qualified electrician must check them first if fire or water damaged. Turn on switches, ceiling fixtures or other electrical items if wet. Use LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) heaters as they create water vapour. Insurance for fire and flood Who pays for emergency work? The cost of urgent damage limitation work carried out by emergency fire and flood companies is usually covered by your building and contents insurance, provided you are fully insured (less any excess or exclusions). Your insurance company will expect you to act quickly after the Fire Service has left, to limit further damage. Local emergency fire and flood companies can help you with this and some can also board up the building. These companies can reduce further damage and speed your recovery. Carrying out the emergency work: Your insurers may provide assistance from a national contractor You can choose a local company if you want to. Companies will liaise with insurers to gain approval for their work. Make sure the company belongs to an accredited professional body. Look at websites that show customer feedback. Take photographs Take photos of damage including items put outside by the Fire Service. You can get a cheap disposable camera from supermarkets. Policies, what does each pay for? Contents - moveable items, e.g. furniture, carpets, curtains etc. Buildings - structure of the building and items fixed to the structure, e.g. boilers, fitted kitchens. You may have separate policies with different insurers. Your insurance policy may not cover all losses, check what you policies cover before taking any action or replacing items. Are you a tenant I leaseholder? To inform them of the event contact either: Building owner Landlord or their agent Management company They may claim from the building insurer. Loss adjuster and loss assessors: Your insurers may send a loss adjuster, claims assessor or claims advisor to inspect damage to the property and contents, and to agree the claim with you.

4 Public loss assessors are independent of your insurers and may contact you after an incident to offer to represent you with the claim. They normally charge a percentage of the claim value for their services. To prepare for your claim: Make a list of all damaged items with replacement costs. Get quotes for any building repair costs. Give details to the insurance representative or claims office. Keep copies of all letters, invoices and receipts. No insurance: There are agencies that may be able to help you if you don t have insurance and if you are in immediate hardship. Please go to the useful contacts page later in this booklet. Useful contacts fire and flood Citizens Advice Bureau Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can offer a wealth of helpful advice, which includes addresses, and telephone numbers of other sources of help. Visit the CAB on or use your local telephone directory for the local office. Local Authority Environmental Health officer Your local environmental health or building control officer will assist you if you have concerns about building stability or pollution. Call your local authority and ask for the relevant department. Emergency clothing and bedding Contact the Benefits Agency and British Red Cross. Urgent Practical Assistance Yellow pages under Fire and Flood. Search the Internet using search engines or - look for fire and flood plus nearest county or city name. The Internet is a good way to find local services. Most libraries have this facility, as do Internet cafes, if you cannot safely access your computer at home. Jobcentre Plus Crisis loans are available from Jobcentre Plus. Information and forms on crisis loans can be downloaded from the Department for Work and Pensions Website The claim form is SF401. This loan is available for everyone whether you are on benefits or not and is based on your individual circumstances. The loan is interest free so you only pay back what you borrow. If you would like some help with the application process a member of staff from either of the above agencies will be pleased to help. Community Care Grants may also be available to you. These grants may be available to ease exceptional pressures on people and their families. They are from the Social Fund and

5 are not required to be paid back. To qualify for this grant you have to be receiving the following benefits: Income Support. Pensions Credit. Income based Jobseekers Allowance The funds are limited and may not be available in all circumstances. National agencies: The following numbers are national helpline numbers, the person you call will be able to put you in touch with someone near to you who can help. National Agencies: Telephone Textphone Benefits Agency National Helpline British Red Cross Central Register Birth, Death & Marriage DVLA - vehicle & drivers National Insurance National Savings & Premium Bonds Passport Agency Gas, Electric and Water: For serious problems or no supply contact United No water Drains & sewers (waste water flooding) Pollution No Electricity For serious problems with gas or no supply contact: National Grid Health advice contact: NHS direct helpline

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