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Don't get caught out by a winter flood

All residents and businesses are being reminded to take sensible precautions to guard against the risk of flooding this winter.

Flooding in March - August 2014

The Environment Agency has today (November 1) launched its annual Flood Awareness campaign and Fenland District Council is stressing the need for people to take active steps to protect themselves and their properties.

In particular, it is urging people to arm themselves with their own sandbags.

They should also check whether they live in a flood risk area and ensure that they are signed up to the Environment Agency's free Floodline Warnings system.

Council leader Cllr John Clark said: "As anyone who has experienced it knows, the effects of a flood can be devastating, so it is very important that people are well prepared.

"That obviously applies particularly to those who live in an 'at risk' area. But flash floods can hit anyone at any time, as we learned from the one a couple of years ago.

"The council has measures in place to deal with any large-scale emergency but individuals should also take appropriate steps to look after themselves."

Fenland Council, like most local authorities, has only a limited supply of sandbags which are reserved for the Highways Authority and Environment Agency to use in an emergency.

Sandbags and sand are available from most DIY stores or builders' merchants. It is advisable to get some to keep at home as stock levels get quickly depleted once flood warnings are issued.

Self-inflating sandbags are also available. Suppliers can be found on the internet or by contacting the National Flood Forum on 01299 403055 or at www.nationalfloodforum.org.uk. An alternative in a sudden emergency is to use heavy duty refuse sacks filled with sand or earth.

Research shows that only 38 per cent of people who live in flood risk areas are aware that their property may be at risk. To check on yours, visit the Environment Agency flood map at www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk  and type in your postcode.

Residents are also advised to sign up to the EA's free Floodline Warnings system. Alerts can be sent by phone, mobile, email, text message and pager. Enrol online at www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings or call Floodline 0845 988 1188.

Other key points include making sure you have the correct insurance cover, knowing how to turn off your gas, electricity and water supplies and keeping a list of useful telephone numbers handy (including your GP details, insurance claim line and policy number)

If your home is hit by flooding, immediate essential measures include turning off your gas, water and electricity. They should not be turned back on until they have been checked by the supplier.

Also, do not attempt to wade or drive through flood water and don't drink flood water or eat food that it has contaminated.

• A general Preparing for Emergencies booklet can be viewed online at www.fenland.gov.uk/emergencybooklet.  Copies are also available at the Fenland @ your service shops in March and Wisbech and the community hubs in Chatteris and Whittlesey and the Chatteris Community Hub, as well as at business reception at Fenland Hall, County Road, March and libraries.

• More detailed advice on flooding is available at www.gov.uk/prepare-for-a-flood and www.fenland.gov.uk/article/9142/

Article added November 1, 2016