The Environment Agency says homes must prepare for flooding with all households advised to check if they're at risk this winter
Households are being told to prepare for possible flooding this winter.
The Environment Agency says Met Office forecasts are warning of an above average likelihood of a wet winter - with more rainfall than normal in January and February - and now is the time to take action.
According to research released by the government this week, nearly two in three households at risk of flooding don't believe it will happen to them - leaving an estimated 1.5 million homes in the UK currently unprepared.
With tougher times likely to be ahead, the Environment Agency says people should now be checking their flood risk online, signing up for flood warnings and - if they are at risk - begin understanding what they need to do if flooding suddenly hits.
Caroline Douglass, executive director of flooding at the Environment Agency, said: "Now is the time for us all to be vigilant, not complacent, about flooding.
"Our previous investment programme protected 314,000 properties from flooding. Our flood defences have helped to protect nearly 200,000 properties during flooding incidents since 2019, and we’re investing millions into building new schemes and making repairs to keep communities safe.
"Yet we can’t prevent all flooding - climate change is only increasing that risk – and today’s figures show that while some people are prepared, many are not. It’s vitally important for the public to go online and check if they are at risk, sign up for Environment Agency warnings, and know what to do if flooding hits."
With 250 mobile pumps and 6,000 trained staff across the country, the Environment Agency says it will be ready to take action to support communities wherever it is needed this winter. The construction and repair of flood defences has also continued throughout the year as part of a £5.2 billion government investment to better protect properties.
Will Lang, Head of Civil Contingencies at the Met Office said staff are watching forecasts closely.
He said: "Winters in the UK usually includes a wide variety of weather and this winter looks to be no exception. However, when looking at the big global drivers that impact weather in the UK there are indications this winter could be wetter than normal.
"Although these wetter conditions are most likely in January and February next year, details will become clearer nearer the time and information can be found on the forecast pages of our website."
Just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float a car, say weather experts, meaning that any driver who encounters flood water should not attempt to drive through it and be ready to take extra precautions when on the road in wet weather.
Tony Rich, from The AA added: "Roads can quickly become impassable during very heavy rainfall, so you should allow plenty of time for journeys. It’s also important to leave twice as much space between you and the car in front to allow for greater stopping distances.
"Drivers should take extra care where roads dip, for example under bridges, as these areas are more likely to flood. Flood water can be deceptively deep, and it doesn’t take much for water to get sucked into your engine. It can also mask other hazards in the road, such as displaced manhole covers, so if in doubt turn around and find another route."
Homes at risk of flooding are advised to follow ‘Prepare. Act. Survive’ procedures and more details about these can be found here.
In the event of a flood alert this involves preparations such as packing medicines and insurances, gathering other important documents and paying close attention to the flood warning information service through to moving family, pets and belongings to safety and turning off water, gas and electricity supplies in the event of a flood warning.