Who is responsible for the safety of my mains water, and what should I do if it tastes funny?
Water suppliers are responsible for the safety of mains water supplies. If your water comes from a mains supply you should follow the advice issued by your water supplier during a flood. In most flooding situations, your mains water will remain safe. Your water company has a duty of care to all of its customers, so they are required to take all necessary steps to protect public health. Should a water treatment plant become flooded, then alternative water supplies will be provided. Alternative supplies might take the form of bottled water which will be distributed to homeowners from a nearby location, or be delivered on mass by bowser (water tanker). While you wait for these you will probably be advised to boil mains water before drinking, or temporarily cease using tap water for domestic purposes.
If you notice any change in your mains water quality, such as discolouration or tainted taste/smell, you should contact your supplier. While waiting for a reply, you should boil drinking water or obtain bottled water instead. In flooding, your provider should inform you if your supply is affected, though generally distribution will continue as usual.
What if my water comes from a private supply?
If your water comes from a spring or well, then you will need to check to see if flood water has affected it. If floodwater covers the source of your water or if your supply has become discoloured/tainted in taste/smell (or you have any other reason to believe it has been affected) you should contact your local council for advice. While you wait for a response, you should follow the advice for mains supplies (above).
What if I can't flush my toilet?
You should attempt to use the facilities of an unaffected neighbour/friend/family member, or seek relief in a public restroom. Sometimes portaloo facilities might be provided in your local vicinity. You might want to consider investing in 'bag-in-bag' products for your flood kit, particularly if your only toilet facilities are on the ground floor, though these may be provided to you in an emergency. Once used, human waste bags should be disposed of in a black bin-liner along with your usual household waste.
Can I use water for my contact lenses?
Short answer - no. Tap water is not suitable for cleaning or storing contact lenses and nor is bowser water, as both can lead to an unpleasant type of eye condition which (though rare) is reportedly quite serious.
What should I do first when tackling a flood clean-up?
The first thing you should do when you have been affected by a flood is call your flooding insurance provider. They will dispatch a loss adjuster to determine the extent of any damage and provide you with the advice and assistance you require. You should wait until your insurer tells you before disposing of anything damaged by the flood, and any work you have undertaken will need to be cleared first. If you have any emergency repairs carried out before the loss adjuster is able to visit you (in more severe events, this may take some time) you will need to keep all relevant receipts.
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Excellent phone service. Cheapest rates I could find for a flood zone too. Wednesday, 29 March 2017
I bought my new house and was misinformed about if the property had been flooded. I found out it had and was extremely worried about the cost [of insurance cover]. After completing the questionnaire I was surprised how reasonable the cost was. Also the level of cover compared to other insurance companies is extremely competitive. It's never something I look forward to doing but was quick and easy and finished in minutes. Review Centre, 30 April 2017
Living in a flood plain and having previously made a claim for subsidence I wasn't hopeful that we would get a competitive quote - how wrong I was. We now have a comprehensive insurance which includes contents cover for less than we previously paid for buildings cover. Great insurance with a lot of help from the staff to get the best cover. Thank you. Review Centre, 21 June 2017
This was one of the best offers I could find for insurers willing to protect my property within 200m of a water course. This is because they are part of the Flood:Re scheme which offers affordable premiums to properties more liable to flooding. Review Centre, 7 August 2017