Last weekend Northumberland was hit hard by Storm Desmond and the resulting floods. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected.Living in a rural location is amazing most of the time but when freak weather occurs, the dream can soon become a nightmare.
There are a number of things you can do to prepare for severe weather.
1. Be Prepared
Getting a flood kit prepared had been on my list of things to do since moving to Kielder in June but it wasn’t until I saw how bad things were getting that I actually got my backside in gear and frantically started shoving thick socks into a bag. A flood kit is simply a bag you can grab in a hurry that is prepacked with warm clothes, a torch, batteries, food, water and medication. If you have to evacuate your home due to floods the idea is you simply grab your flood kit and you will have everything you need.
2. Sign up for Flood Alerts
The Environment Agency offer a flood alert system which means they will phone you if a flood alert/warning has been issued for your area. I received a few phone calls at the weekend which gave Mrs Wifey plenty of time to get my essential medical equipment and supplies upstairs in case we were hit by the floods. They also send an email with further information, a flood plan to fill out and you can access the website at any time to check flood warnings.
3. Complete a Flood Plan
A flood plan keeps you organised and helps reduce the panic if you are affected by a flood. It lists all the essentials like who supplies your power, your insurance company details, where your electricity cut off switch is, etc. as well as giving you a step-by-step action plan to follow. Having a flood plan completed and safe in your flood kit means you can remain calm and get everything done to protect your property once you receive a flood warning.
If you sign up for flood alerts from the environment agency you will receive a paper copy to complete in the post.
4. Be prepared for power cuts
You’ll get your fair share of power cuts in the countryside. Power cuts happen for all sorts of reasons in the wilds including strong winds blowing trees onto power lines so being prepared is a must. The essential power-cut kit includes:
-A camping stove to cook on (plus gas)
-An electric-free telephone (very cheap, plugs straight into the phone socket and has no extra power source so works during a power cut). You can pick them up for less than £10 in Argos, Currys and online
– Camping kettle and pans to cook on the stove
-Hot water bottle to keep warm
-Easy to cook food such as pre-cooked rice, beans, tinned meat etc
-A battery operated clock
5.Know you local flood plan
Most areas at high risk of flood will have some form of emergancy plan. In Kielder we have a team of people who are responsible for distributing sand bags and everyone knows the Youth Hostel is the safe point we evacuate to. Knowing this in advance means you can be better prepared if there is a flood.
6.Protect Your Belongings
If you have advance warning of flooding (another reason to sign up for flood alerts) there are things you can do to reduce the damage to your belongings. Obviously the easiest thing is to get as much as you can upstairs, but that’s not always practical so here are some tips for items you can’t move easily:
– Protect your wooden kitchen table by placing the legs inside plastic buckets. It may stop the wood from getting damaged.
– Place kitchen items from low cupboards onto counters and tables.
– Lift your sofa and place tins of paint, blocks of wood or anything else that will give the sofa height, under the feet. It may protect your sofa from flood water if it is high enough.
– Wrap curtains over the curtain poles.
7. Stay Safe
The most important thing to protect is yourself and your family. Stay safe. Leave when advised to and do not return to flooded properties until told it is safe. Furniture and dvds can be replaced, your life cannot.
For further information on how to prepare for floods visit
Gov.uk – government site containing links to flood alert system.
National Flood Forum – includes information on flood insurance, flood alerts and other essential information relating to floods.