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Young people most likely to take deadly risks in a flood

03 December 2018

Driving through flood water, taking storm selfies and wave watching during coastal flooding are some of the life endangering risks that young people would take in a flood, according to new figures.

Such actions are putting themselves and rescue services in extreme danger, according to the Environment Agency, the National Fire Chiefs Council and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.

In addition to being the age group most likely to take life endangering risks during a flood, people aged 18-34 are also the least likely to know if they live in an area at risk of flooding, or how to protect their homes if flooding was forecast.

In Norfolk, firefighters have already had to rescue 10 people from flooding incidents, including five people trapped in their vehicles.  Three of these occurred at Welney in West Norfolk.

According to Home Office statistics, Fire and Rescue Services in England attended around 15,000 flood related incidents in 2016/17, and rescued or evacuated around 1,000 people from flood waters.  On average around 170 people a year are rescued from inside or on top of a vehicle surrounded by water.

Norfolk’s Chief Fire Officer David Ashworth said flooding presents a “significant risk to the communities of Norfolk”.

He said:  “This year Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has rescued 10 people from flooding incidents. This compares with a total of 15 for the previous year (2017/18).

“All too regularly drivers either don’t appreciate the wading limitations of their vehicles or are prepared to take a chance and attempt to drive through the flood water.  This results in an emergency response by our crews.

“It is important that advice provided by the Environment Agency and Norfolk County Council is heeded and people don’t put themselves at risk.

“All too regularly we attend incidents where there is a history of flooding for example at Welney in West Norfolk where the road is submerged for much of the winter yet a minority of motorists still ignore the warning signs and diversion routes.”

With a wet, stormy winter forecast, the Environment Agency and Fire and Rescue Services across the country are urging young people to find out how to keep themselves, their loved ones and their homes safe in a flood.  And during this year’s Flood Action Campaign, the Environment Agency is encouraging people to look at its ‘Prepare Act Survive’ flood plan, which lists some simple steps to help stay safe in a flood.

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said:  “Knowing what to do in a flood could save your life and keep the people that you care about safe.  Taking some simple steps to prepare in advance could prevent thousands of pounds of damage to your home and your possessions.

“We would really urge young people, wherever they live, whether that’s in their own home, in rented housing, student accommodation or at home with their parents, to look at the Prepare Act Survive plan and find out how to how to protect themselves and their homes.”

Dawn Whittaker, NFCC Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Lead said:  “Unfortunately fire and rescue services are often called to incidents where people have just underestimated the risks posed by flood water.

“Floods can quickly turn into life-threatening situations so NFCC ask that people listen to advice and avoid entering flood water whether on foot or in a vehicle.”

To find out more about what to do in a flood visit what to do in a flood on GOV.UK.

The Environment Agency is spending more than £2.6bn to build flood schemes around the country as part of its current programme, which will better protect 300,000 homes by 2021.  Ahead of this winter it has also invested in more temporary flood barriers and high volume pumps which can be deployed at short notice right across the country whilst also working more closely with partners such as the Fire and Rescue Service – further improving the Environment Agency’s rapid flood response.

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