Flooding is caused when more rain falls than the land can absorb or water courses, drainage and sewerage systems can cope with. Pipes and drains may become blocked by debris. Water levels rise and spill over river embankments. Sewage rises in the sewers and escapes through drains, along with rodents.
As a consequence flood water is often polluted by sewage, chemicals and also from animal faeces if water has run off fields. Polluted flood water can cause a wide range of infectious diseases such as diarrhoeal disease.
Other risks are from injuries, drowning, chemical contact, being stranded, having no power or clean water and the stress and anxiety caused by these situations. These can affect a wide range of people. The most vulnerable are the very young, the elderly and those with certain pre-existing conditions for example, individuals on kidney dialysis and those whose immune system is not working well.
What is the scale of the problem?
Floods are more common during winter months but freak weather can cause floods in the summer. Some areas are more prone to floods than others. These are often referred to as flood plains. When areas are flooded there can be difficulties in the supply of food, water and power to the affected areas.
What can you do?
You can protect yourself and family by taking simple precautions listed below:
- Listen out for flood warnings in the media.
- In the event of flooding heed the advice of the emergency services
- Don’t try to walk or drive through flood water
The Health Protection Agency has published advice for householders who have been affected by flooding.
To find out whether your home is at risk of flooding and for guidance on coping with flooding, visit the Environment Agency website.
Health advice for people affected by flooding can be accessed from NHS Direct
What is being done to manage the impact?
The emergency services and local councils are the first responders when flooding occurs. Priority is given to evacuating affected people to safety and safeguarding basic supplies.
The Environment Agency Wales is responsible for flood planning and defences.
The NHS provides health advice and healthcare.