What is a flash flood?
Flash floods happen when an exceptional amount of rain falls in a very short time. Although they are still very rare, they are becoming more common. This type of flood happens very quickly and is particularly dangerous and extremely destructive, so being prepared could save lives and property.
Because of climate change, we are experiencing heavier and more frequent downpours that put extra stress on all drainage systems. This increases the risk of flash flooding because drainage systems and small rivers can be overwhelmed in all areas, potentially affecting properties previously thought safe from flooding, not just those in the valley bottoms.
Is there anything else I can do?
The most important thing you can do is to take the risk of flash flooding seriously.
Flash flooding can happen very quickly, and there is often no time to issue flood warnings beforehand. However, the free Floodline Warning Direct Service will give you advance warning of flooding from rivers and the sea. You can sign up for Flood Warnings Direct, check your flood risk by phoning Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or visit the Environment Agency.
Be aware and know the signs
Flash flooding can happen suddenly. It is important to know what signs to look for in your location so that you can ACT FAST.
Watch out for the following, and treat them as signs that a flash flood could be on its way:
- heavy rain or severe weather reports
- rising water levels with churning dark water
- a build-up of debris in rivers or streams.
Video of flash flooding at Croft Carr, Lumbutts, July 2013
What to do if a flash flood happens
Take these quick and simple measures to minimise the impact on you and your property:
- Listen to local radio and TV for warnings and advice.
- Move furniture and valuables upstairs if you can.
- Roll up carpets and rugs if possible and move them out of harm’s way.
- Put plugs in downstairs sinks and baths and weigh them down.
- Bring outdoor pets indoors and upstairs where possible.
- Prepare a pack with essential items i.e. prescriptions, important documents, baby items etc.
- Turn off the gas and electricity supply.
- Evacuate if asked to do so by the emergency services.
- Never walk or drive through floodwater, as there may be hidden dangers such as open manholes.
- Keep yourself safe; dial 999 if your life or health is at risk.