Floods and Coastal Surges

Date: 18.09.2014     Last updated: 24.06.2019 at 15.59
Floods severe costal weather are an increasing risk in the UK and internationally. As these can be in ordinary residential neighbourhoods or familiar settings, the risks can be hidden.

If in place contact flood incident control centres/environment agencies/fire and rescue services to identify hazards and changing conditions.

Safety Equipment Stores and some international bureaux have supplies of compact and discreet life jackets that can be worn without interfering with free movement or the shot.

Be aware that underwater hazards e.g. missing manhole covers can be a result of displacement by the volume of water – they can also be removed to let flood waters drain or by vandals. BBC people have fallen into these holes and the results could have been fatal.

Be aware that flooded substations can create the risk of metal structures on the grid eg lampposts becoming live. 

What Can Go Wrong?

  • Immediate risk of drowning or being swept away by flood water, and waves falling into drains, ditches, underwater debris, floating debris.
  • Flood waters can lift manhole covers.
  • Using small boats e.g. inflatable or row boats.
  • Electric shock.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Infection – all flood water is potentially contaminated by sewage.
  • Driving to flood area.
  • Injury from collapse of unsafe structures, sea walls, cliffs undermined or collapsing.

Legal/BBC Requirements

  • There are no specific legal requirements to draw to your attention; you must still apply the control measures that are relevant to your activity.

Control Measures

General Controls

  • Only in exceptional circumstances enter the water. This should be planned – to and from a safe position, using adequate support to prevent loss of footing, and have a back-up plan. You must have a second person with you.
  • Do not set up where there is a risk of rising flood waters or sudden release of water unbalancing persons or kit.
  • Never enter floodwater near substations or where it is clear that external electricity boxes are underwater. The electricity supply may not have been switched off by the local electricity supplier and this could result in electric shock or electrocution.
  • Always check weather reports before and during deployment. Keep up to date with changing conditions, and re-assess the risk accordingly.
  • Consider communications – can you get a signal out on location to make calls and also use GPS navigation or updates eg, Highways Agency?
  • Always have an emergency plan for short notice evacuation, and ensure all comms are in place and working.
  • If using small boats, get permission from skipper/owner, who should be told what is planned by the BBC, and who should explain local arrangements. Wear suitable lifejacket.
  • Keep equipment dry and use battery equipment as preference. Use Residual current Devices (RCD’s) if using mains power.
  • Wear suitable footwear and weatherproof clothing, and take a change of clothes. Plan breaks and rest periods and ensure hot food and drinks are taken. Keep an eye on colleagues.
  • If in flooded fields where livestock kept, maybe chance of waste products within water.
  • If driving, avoid entering water over axle height. Check levels of water if unsure, as water depth can be deceptive e.g. using a stick. Ensure that your vehicle is fit for purpose, and that you are competent to drive in those conditions.
  • Floods can undermine walls and structures – make a visual check, and keep a safe distance form any walls and waves that could be in danger of collapse, sea walls, roads, cliffs that could collapse bridges.
  • If any illness after entering flood water contact your GP.

Division Specific Issues

  • No division specific issues.

FAQs/Did You Know?

  • Even in low flood waters, serious accidents have occurred from falling down uncovered drains.
  • Flooded substations can pose the risk of metal structures on the grid eg lampposts becoming live. This can result in electrocution or lead to drowing when people fall into the water after the shock.
  • Hypothermia can affect your ability to make correct decisions.
  • Weil’s disease, or Leptospirosis, is among the most common disease transmitted to people from animals. If you experience flu-type symptoms following visit to flood area, contact your local GP.

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It is not intended to provide instruction or guidance on how third parties should manage their risks. The BBC cannot be held liable for how this information is interpreted or used by third parties, nor provide any assurance that adopting it would provide any measure of legal compliance. More information.


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