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Learning About Flood Warnings

by Jessica Amey

We were living in Somerset when there were those terrible floods a couple of years ago, we weren’t directly affected as they were about half an hour away from us but seeing the damage they caused was pretty scary. A recent survey, carried out by UKDN, found that 72% of people wouldn’t know what to do if their home was flooded. 82% of those asked didn’t know the difference between a flood alert, flood warning and severe flood warning, even those living in flood risk areas, nor did they know they needed a ‘personal flood plan’ and a way to record flood damage for insurance companies.

A report from the EFRA (Enviroment, Food and Rural Affairs) stated that climate change will continue to increase flood risk in the UK and that “rainfall will become more frequent and more intense. “Peak river flows could be more than twice current levels in some English regions by 2070” – that is pretty scary. We recently watched Before The Flood by Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s a really good watch and talks about climate change. The thing we all seem to switch off to but the thing we should be doing something about if we want our children to enjoy any kind of future on this planet.

Given the fact that these problems are only going to get worse it’s really important we all educate ourselves on what the alerts and warnings mean, regardless of whether or not we live in flood risk areas. After being sent the information I came up with an activity to help the kids understand what it means.

Using felt we cut out some shapes to create a flood scene, starting with no flood risk and going through to a full flood.

So this is a house near some fields and a river. The water flow is low and the animals are all happy in the fields.

Then there is a flood alert. This is the sign and it means to be prepared as flooding is possible. As you can see we’ve added some rain and the water level of the river has risen.
Action to take when you are given this alert:

  • Prepare a flood kit of essential items E.g. Insurance documents
  • Mobile phones
  • Emergency cash
  • Essential medication
  • Children’s essentials e.g. milk, baby food, bottles, nappies, clothing, etc
  • Check the weather forecast and the government’s flood information service

flood warnings - flood alert

Next comes the flood warning. We’ve added more water to the river to show the level has risen even more, it’s very close to bursting it’s banks. We’ve added some sandbags to the side of the house, I explained to the kids what these were for.
Action to take when this warning is given:

  • Move family, pets and valuables to a safe place
  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies, if safe to do so
  • Put flood protection equipment in place E.g. sandbags, barriers

flood warning

Then lastly is the severe flood warning. This is very serious and means there is a danger to life. We added water to the entire area and it’s destroyed everything in it’s path. We’ve put the people on the roof of the house and I explained how helicopters or boats need to rescue people when the floods are too bad for them to leave.
Action to take when you see this warning:

  • Stay in a safe place
  • Be ready to leave if you are asked to evacuate from your home
  • Co-operate with the emergency services
  • Call 999 if you are in immediate danger


severe flood warning

We really enjoyed learning about flood warnings, and actually this activity using felt could be used to explain lots of things. Do you know flood warnings look like?


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