02 December 2022
British Red Cross warns UK ill-prepared for floods, with only one-in-seven people aware of what action to take
- Four in five people don’t know where to get information on the risk of flooding and what to do if flooding occurs
- One in seven don’t have buildings or contents insurance. Half of those without insurance said cost of living or other financial pressures were a factor.
- 1.9 million people across the UK currently live in areas at significant risk of flooding, this number could double by the 2050s.
For further information: email@example.com 020 7877 7557 / 07710 391 703. Interviews available on request.
Spokespeople: Chris Davies, Head of Emergency Planning and Response, Carney Bonner, Community Resilience Lead
The British Red Cross has warned the UK is ill-prepared for worsening flooding as the charity releases their report Every time it rains today. The report highlights the low proportion of people who know how to get flooding information, understand their areas flood risk or know how to prepare. This is despite early warnings of potential floods this winter and in early 2023.
The report includes insight from focus groups in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Hull, Belfast and Glasgow, which have the highest future social flood risk under climate change. Participants from Rhondda Cynon Taf and Hull had previously experienced serious flooding.
Polling accompanying the report showed:
- Four in five people [81%] don’t know where to get information on floods;
- Three in four people [73%] don’t have good understanding of their area’s flood risk;
- One in seven [15%] don’t have buildings or contents insurance. Half of those without insurance said this was due to cost of living or other financial pressures;
- Two in three people [66%] in the UK think that we are currently seeing more flooding in the UK as a result of climate change. Over three in four [77%] think it is likely that climate change will result in more flooding in the UK.
Chris Davies, Head of Emergency Planning and Response at the British Red Cross said:
"Floods are one of the most serious climate-related hazards we face in this country. They can devastate homes, destroy irreplaceable and sentimental items, cost families thousands of pounds of damage and cause immense suffering.
“This research shows us that while most people recognise that climate change is increasing the risk of floods, they don’t know how to prepare or get information. Millions of people across the country are vulnerable but only one in seven have taken steps to protect their homes.
“We’re calling on national and local governments to work with communities to better prepare the public for flooding. We need clearer information on what to do before, during and after a flood and we need to ensure communities fully understand the risk they face. With more determined action we can help make sure people are empowered to cope with both current and future flood risk.”
Tina, 49, experienced serious flooding in Hull in 2007, which affected over 10,000 properties. She describes the experience and impact on her and two young children:
“We were sat at the top of the stairs watching the water getting higher and higher. It was unbelievable. I didn’t think it was going to stop. I literally left with my kids and some clothes, that was it. We had to leave everything else behind. It was pretty surreal wading through the streets with fish floating by. We couldn’t see where we were going or what we were walking on.
“As it was a private rental house we were in at the time, the landlord paid for the refurbishment of the building and I had my own insurance to cover the contents. I know not everyone on the street was that lucky.
“There are lots of things that money can’t replace. I had lots of things boxed in storage in the garage. Everything was ruined. We lost the lot. I had toys and videos from when my children were tiny. You can’t replace those. But even worse than that, I had birthday cards from my mum who died 20 years ago. Things she had sent me when I was a child. Completely irreplaceable memories. I was devastated.”
The British Red Cross is calling for changes to increase the UK’s resilience to floods, including:
- Better use of future flood risk maps and data to help communities to understand their risk and take action;
- Prioritised support for those communities and individuals who are particularly vulnerable;
- Flooding information that is tailored to the needs of specific communities;
- Support for people to get the right insurance against flooding;
- Clarity on what actions individuals and businesses should take to prepare for flooding;
- Improved engagement between local authorities and affected communities to support local action and build resilience;
- A coordinated and comprehensive national approach and guidance to prepare and respond to emergencies, including floods.
With the UK experiencing several heavy rainstorms over the past months and predictions of more floods in early 2023, the British Red Cross is encouraging people to familiarise themselves with actions to take before, during and after a flood.
Before a flood
- Download the British Red Cross Emergency Appand set emergency alerts for your area.
- Check online for weather warnings and updates, using the Met Office warnings tracker and weather map
- Check flood warnings in England ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland
- Make an evacuation plan for your family and pets
- Let older and vulnerable neighbours know about flood alerts
- Learn first aid skills
- Prepare an emergency kit in case you need to leave quickly
- Check your insurance policy
Prepare for a flood
- Move sentimental and important items upstairs
- Take photographs around your home. This may help with insurance claims
- Shut and lock all windows and doors but ensure you have an easily accessible escape route from the property
- If you need to evacuate, turn off the mains power before you leave. You can be electrocuted in floodwater if the power remains switched on.
- Move vehicles to higher ground so they won’t be caught in rising floodwater.
During a flood
- Don't walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over. Two feet of water can float a car.
- Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage.
- If the flood poses a threat to your safety, call the emergency services immediately.
- Need to leave your home and have nowhere to stay? Your local council will help.
- Contact the National Flood Forum for more advice
After a flood
Flooding is a stressful experience. If you need support, call NHS 111 by dialling 111. They’ll tell you about crisis support services
- Boil tap water or use bottled water until supplies are declared safe
- Dispose of any food that may have been contaminated
- Follow the UK government's advice on how to keep you and your family safe while cleaning up after a flood.
- Ends -
Notes to editor:
The British Red Cross’ report Every time it rains can be found here. The report includes insight from communities in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Hull, Belfast and Glasgow, alongside research carried out by Eunomia Research and Consulting Ltd. and polling by Opinium.
Opinium were commissioned to conduct a nationally representative ten minute online survey of over 2,000 UK adults. Survey was in field between 26 September to 31 October 2022.
- 1.9 million people across the UK currently live in areas at significant risk of flooding, this number could double by the 2050s
UK Climate Risk (2021). ‘Flooding and coastal change briefing - Findings from the third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3) Evidence Report 2021’. Retrieved from: ukclimaterisk.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/CCRA3-Briefing-Flooding-and-Coastal-Change.pdf
- The report includes insight from focus groups in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Hull, Belfast and Glasgow, which have the highest future social flood risk under climate change.
These areas have the highest predicted social flood risk by the 2050s and 2080s for 2°C and 4°C scenarios.
Source: Sayers, P., Horritt, M., Carr, S., Kay, A., Mauz, J., Lamb, R., and Penning-Rowsell, E. (2020). ‘Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3): Future flood risk’. London: Committee on Climate Change.
The British Red Cross
For more than 150 years, the British Red Cross has helped people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them recover and move on with their lives. redcross.org.uk.
[i] 'Social flood risk’ is a combination of the exposure, vulnerability and probability of flooding at a neighbourhood scale.
[ii] 'Social flood risk’ is a combination of the exposure, vulnerability and probability of flooding at a neighbourhood scale.