In the light of recent history, we know that flooding is a recurring problem, and it can strike at very short notice. Flooding can have a devastating impact on homes, families and commercial properties, not to mention causing danger to life. Given the reality of climate change, we know flooding will happen again and again – so is there anything we can do to protect ourselves?
On a practical level, there is plenty we can do to protect our properties and reduce flood damage. Here, Dakota Murphey working as an independent content writer for barrier and security specialists Maltaward, who have compiled 8 flood products you can deploy to take preventative action against flooding.
1. Slot-in flood barriers provide a cost-effective engineered solution for flood protection. Made from lightweight aluminium, they are easy to erect/demount and convenient to store until needed. When the risk of flooding becomes imminent, the flood barriers are slotted into place into channels, then clamped to form a watertight seal. They’re perfect for doorways or longer lengths, and can be up to 4 metres high.
2. Adaptable protection can be provided by installing a permanent aluminium frame to the inside or outside of a building, into which modular UPVC boards are slotted. As the flood water rise or fall, boards can be added (from the inside, if required) or taken away.
3. Hinged flood gates are a useful addition for doorways and openings against a step. Not only do they offer flood protection when shut, they can be used for normal everyday business too. For driveways or openings in walls, larger hinged flood gates allow easy access and provide a quick flood defence.
4. Flood resistant doors are an alternative to fitting flood barriers in front of doors. With doors being the most obvious and vulnerable access point for flood water, having watertight doors with a locking rubber seal system can protect from flash floods of up to 600mm. Waterproof windows made from marine grade steel and toughened glass are also worthy of consideration.
5. Sandbags are a traditional flood defence and it’s a good idea to stock up if there is a threat of flooding. Your local council should have a good supply, or speak to your local builders’ merchant. As a modern alternative to sandbags and particularly useful to protect against tidal surges, plastic safety barriers can be assembled via a system of interlocking blocks. Some flood barrier systems actually fill up with the rising flood waters. The weighted blocks are quick to deploy in an emergency situation.
6. For permanent flood protection, you may want to think about installing an emergency flood wall of solid galvanised steel. When not in use, the wall sits neatly in the ground, forming part of the road or footpath. When flooding is threatened, it can be raised (and lowered) manually with the help of torsion springs. Use as a single unit to protect an opening, or as a series of units to form a longer wall.
7. One way flood water can get into your property is via the sewage system through your sinks and toilets. Installing non-return valves on drains and pipes is a relatively inexpensive way to block off that particularly unpleasant channel. Flaps prevent backflow from sewage to your property; there may also be an emergency locking mechanism and a pump.
8. Air bricks are essential to provide ventilation to your property, but they’re also an easy route for water ingress. You can buy covers that fit over air bricks to stop the flood water entering, which will need to be remove once the flooding has passed so the building can dry out properly. Alternatively, water resistant air bricks can be fitted, or automatic air bricks that operate a buoyancy system to stop water getting in.
If your property is in a flood risk zone, it may be sensible to take a couple of other precautions too. The majority of flood damages happens at below 500mm height. To avoid expensive rewiring, why not install electrical wiring and power sockets higher up in the walls?
Consider landscaping your outdoor spaces with the risk of flooding in mind. Design areas to divert water away from the building, and replace concreted surfaces with permeable pavements, grass and gravel, so that water can pass through and sink into the earth.
Finally, the National Flood Forum is a national charity dedicated to supporting communities and individuals at risk of flooding. It’s a useful resource for all flood-related information, while its Blue Pages is the UK’s leading independent directory of flooding products.
For specific advice and alerts about imminent flooding events, the government’s Flood Information Service is also worth checking.