Flooding and your home – what you need to know
It’s estimated that around 5.2 million homes is England and Wales are at risk of flooding.
You may have one of them without even realising.
According to government research, less than 40% of people who are at risk know they are.
If you live near a river or close to the sea, the degree of danger might seem obvious, but this is often not the case because defences and flood prevention methods can greatly lessen what might seem an obvious risk.
And the extent of a flood and the direction it takes is not always a simple thing to predict.
On top of this, most insurance claims now involve surface water and groundwater flooding rather than that caused by rivers or the sea.
Making sure you have the right insurance - you can get cover by comparing policies online - is crucial (scroll down for what to look out for before taking out a policy).
Local authorities are now putting together Intermediate Surface Water Flood Risk Management Maps, which should be available in the next couple of years.
In the meantime, there is no foolproof way of easily checking whether you are at risk from surface-water flooding.
In the meantime, you may be aware of previous flooding in your area or there may be community concerns, a few local authorities also provide a warning service.
Other common forms of flooding you often can do something about are:
* Blocked or overloaded drains and waste water pipes
* Burst pipes
* Ditches and drainage channels
What is surface water and groundwater flooding?
Also known as pluvial flooding, surface-water flooding can happen in places that would seem to be unlikely to flood.
It’s caused when heavy rain simply overwhelms the drainage system and is becoming increasingly common as more land is developed and doesn’t allow water to soak through.
Groundwater flooding happens when the water table itself is raised usually after a long period of rain.
If you’re affected by this kind of flooding, you’re likely to see water seeping up through the floor rather than rushing in through doorways.
How do I know if I’m at risk from flooding?
You can ask the Environment Agency for what’s known as an insurance-related request letter.
These are free of charge and include details like:
* The most recent National Flood Risk Assessment that was carried out
* Any flood defences and the level of protection they offer
* Any planned improvements to reduce flood risk
* Any dates when the area was previously flooded.
At the end of 2013 the Environment Agency published its updated flood risk maps and these are available for anyone to view.
You can see if you have been identified as being at flood risk from rivers and the sea, surface water and/or reservoir flooding.
To check your risk, go to the Environment Agency’s website or Natural Resources Wales website.
What’s in My Back Yard also gives information about which areas are at risk of river and coastal flooding.
If you live in Scotland, check the flood map on the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency website; Northern Ireland residents should go to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development website