Plug sockets should be higher up the wall so they are at less risk if a property is affected by flooding, the head of the Environment Agency has said.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Sir James Bevan said homeowners should check their flood risk and consider installing measures such as flood gates and waterproof flooring.
Asked if those living on the ground floor should consider refurbishments to make their homes more flood resilient, he said: “Yes. So there is a greater risk because of climate change. The best defence of all is to know whether you are at risk and what to do if that risk materialises.”
Suggesting people visit gov.uk to learn about the government’s flood guidance, he added: “That will give you very good advice about measures that you could put into your property – flood gates, impermeable floors, moving the electrics up the walls. That will mean if your home sadly does flood you’ll be able to get back to normal much more quickly.”
A postcode checker is also available to help people understand their level of flood risk.
It came after the Government announced new funding for flood defence schemes and warned that climate change would put more people at risk.
Writing in The Telegraph on Thursday, George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said: “Climate change means more extreme weather, a higher risk of flooding events and coastal erosion. All too often, we are seeing households suffering repeated flooding.”
Building codes suggest positioning plug sockets at a height between 45 centimetres (18 in) and 120 centimetres (48 in) off the ground, to make sure they are accessible to people with different levels of mobility.
Sockets, plugs and switches should be “reasonably accessible to people who have reduced reach”, guidelines state.
They can be placed at a mid-wall height above countertops or to enable the installation of wall-mounted appliances such as TVs. If placed above a kitchen surface a distance of 15 centimetres (6 in) is suggested to ensure that cables are not crushed or twisted in a limited space.
Government guidance on flood adaptation states: “To reduce flood damage you can take steps such as laying tiles instead of carpets, moving electrical sockets higher up the wall and fitting non-return valves to stop flood water entering your property through the drains.”
On Thursday a study from the Met Office found that 2020 had been in the Top 10 for levels of heat, sunshine and rainfall, the first time this had been the case for any one year, with meteorologists warning that Britain needed to prepare for 40C temperatures in the summer, heavy rainfall and greater risk of flooding.
Speaking on Radio 4’s World At One on Thursday, Sir John Armitt, the infrastructure commission chairman, said: “It is not only floods, we face drought of course, and we have got to get used to using less water, everyone of us at the same time, as we need to invest in more capacity to store the water when it rains.”
The civil engineer also said the Government needed to focus on encouraging people to adopt realistic methods of reducing emissions, instead of relying on “fanciful” technological solutions to prevent climate change.
He added: “There are lots of uncertainties, which is why, in a sense, the most important thing we can do is deal with those things we do know, for example the electrification of vehicles and make sure that the opportunity is there for everyone in the next 10 years to get to grips with having an electric car instead of a petrol one.”