Flood safety advice for churches

Since 1998 we have seen six of the ten wettest years on record and as we head into the winter, heavy rain is due to set in and so comes the risk of flooding.

It’s essential to ensure your church is flood-aware and we know it’s impossible to flood-proof your church properties, but there are some simple actions you can take to reduce the damage a flood may cause.

Carry on reading to find out how you can prepare.

This blog has been written by church insurance broker Francesca Kirkham, Cert CII.

Are you at risk of flooding?

A nearby river may be an obvious flood risk, but sometimes the risk may be less clear. You can check your situation in a number of ways: 

  • The Environment Agency (EA – England and Wales) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) offer an online postcode search to see if your local area is at risk 
  • You can sign up to Flood Warnings Direct from EA to receive warnings by phone, text or email. SEPA offer a similar warning system by phone 
  • Your local authority can tell you what flood prevention schemes are available or are planned in your area.

Specialist advice is available from the National Flood Forum.

Check your flood risk online

Sign up for flood warnings

Protect your property

If you are at risk, you can take steps to form a barrier against flood water getting into your church or other properties. You can:

  • Use temporary flood barriers/defences both around the buildings themselves and the perimeter where water can get in
  • For basic and emergency protection have sandbags or similar alternatives available
  • If you have a brick building, fit air brick covers to prevent water from entering the property which can be removed when flood waters have receded
  • Fit non-return valves to drainage systems to prevent water from backing up into the property
  • Use pump and sump systems to mitigate damage.

Planning for a flood

Making your church building more resilient can reduce the impact of water entering your church and also aid the recovery process. Steps you can take include:

  • Raising electrical sockets, fuse boxes, controls and wiring to above likely flood levels. If rewiring, bring cables down the wall to meet the raised socket so the cabling isn’t affected by floodwater
  • Where possible, relocate more vulnerable items to higher levels and try to raise as much as possible above likely flood levels
  • For Church Halls consider more flood-resistant flooring such as concrete with tiles instead of carpet
  • Where possible, use plaster, which is more water resistant, on walls or on the part of the wall
  • If you can, use floodproof materials such as plastic skirting, stainless steel, solid wood or plastic fixtures/fittings or even removable fixtures/fittings at vulnerable levels.

Recovery after a flood

If the worse happens and you are flooded make sure you:

  • Contact 01206 760780. We have a range of specialists who can provide advice on drying out and cleaning up your property and undertaking any repairs or replacements
  • Take photographs of areas or items affected by floodwater
  • Be aware – flood water could be contaminated. Approach with caution and use anti-bacterial hand gel if you have to touch the water
  • Open the doors to reduce humidity but ensure the building is secure when closed
  • Don’t throw away any damaged items until our claims team say it is ok to do so. We will work with you to get your building back in use as soon as possible
  • Make certain any emergency works comply with Listed Building legislation if appropriate.

Bespoke Church Buildings Insurance you can rely on

We’ve been helping churches of all sizes find the best church buildings insurance for their needs for over 40 years. Whether your buildings are old or modern, our experienced church insurance team will give you the peace of mind you need. We also provide insurance for charities.