Emergency situations, such as floods, can occur suddenly and when you least expect them. Flood water can pose a danger to children in several ways, so here are some practical tips on keeping children safe during a house flood.
If you live near a river or in an area susceptible to flooding, then it’s always useful to have a flood emergency plan in place in case flooding does occur. However, often flooding happens without any prior expectation and when you least expect it, so you need to be able to think on your feet and know how to react to best protect both your family and your property.
Safe and Dry
When flooding starts, it may seem inconsequential at first, but the situation can worsen very quickly. If you have children, then your key concern should be to keep them safe. As soon as flooding begins, make sure that children are in an area that is safe and dry. It could be a part of your house, upstairs rather than downstairs or, if feasible, ask for a friend to look after them for you.
It’s not recommended that you drive or walk through deep floodwater, so if the area outside looks dangerous, stay put and wait to be rescued. If you’re unsure whether or not local authorities know about the situation, phone the Police and then stay tuned to your local radio station or TV for the latest news. The Environment Agency also operates a floodline that has details about flooding situations. Wait near an accessible window where emergency services can see you.
Turn off Your Utilities
Ideally, you should aim to turn off your gas, electricity and water, and move important documents and personal belongings to an area where they won’t get damaged. Before you turn off your electricity, it’s worth charging your mobile phone for a short period, so that if utilities do get cut off, you’ll have some power left in your phone.
Important Flooding Issues
One of the main issues with floodwater is that it can often be contaminated, so it’s important for children to keep away from floodwater as much as possible. Any toys, clothes or belongings that become contaminated with floodwater should be washed thoroughly at 60ºC (a hot wash) or disinfected before they’re used again.
Depending on the severity of the flooding, tap water may become contaminated so, if possible, boil water before use or use bottled water for drinking purposes. If you have disinfectant wipes handy, these can be great for helping to keep your child’s hands clean and reduce the risk of infection.
Prepare for Evacuation
If there’s a likelihood of being evacuated, then gather up a small selection of essential items to take with you and ensure all the family have warm clothes on, a warm coat and blankets to keep warm, especially during the winter months. Ensure children have their favourite toy with them and don’t forget supplies of nappies, formula, a spare set of clothes and bottles for babies.
Experiencing an emergency flooding situation at home can understandably be really scary. But do try to remain as calm as possible, keep a clear head and remain cheery in the presence of your children. They’ll no doubt pick up on any stress and understand that the situation isn’t normal but, if you’re lucky, by keeping calm they may view the situation as more of an adventure rather than a nightmare.