The Environment Agency has issued severe flood warnings for coastal communities as strong winds combine with high tides and large waves from the early hours of Friday (3 January 2014).
The flood risk will extend along the UK coastline from north west England, through Wales and south west and southern England. Areas particularly at risk include the Isles of Scilly, the north and south coasts of Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and the coastline of Wales.
Public Health England Centres in affected areas are providing information to local partners on the potential health impacts before, during and after a flood as well as advice and support on the response and recovery. Although public health impacts may be limited in the acute stages of severe flooding, the long term impacts on mental health and wellbeing should not be underestimated.
Professor Virginia Murray, head of extreme events and health protection for PHE, said:
We urge the public to heed the advice from the Environment Agency and take action if flooding has been forecast in your area, to keep yourselves and your families safe. Listen to the local radio, follow the advice of the emergency services and evacuate when told to do so. Remember to check on elderly and vulnerable friends and neighbours if you can.
In case you need to leave your home, pack a ‘flood kit’ with clothing and personal items, phone numbers, insurance documents, bank details - and remember to include any medicines, medical devices, hearing aid batteries and glasses or contact lenses.
Accidents happen in fast flowing floodwater so avoid walking or driving in or near floodwater. Take care if you must go into flood water as there could be hidden dangers like sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollution. Also wash your hands regularly and do not eat food that has touched flood water.
When cleaning up after a flood, ensure good ventilation if using portable indoor appliances to dry out rooms. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal: never use outdoor generators indoors even in the event of a power cut.
More information to help those at risk of flooding, including advice on what to do after a flood is available in a new leaflet Flooding: advice for the public, produced by Public Health England in collaboration with the Environment Agency.
Photo above by Stoutcob on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.