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Homes urged to think ahead about flooding

STORM-related insurance claims rise by £16m this year among UK homes with insurance running out by 2013.

Thousands of homes across the UK are at risk of flooding that could leave communities in havoc if the correct steps are not taken.

Following the Environment’s Agency’s warning of flash flooding last month, people are being urged to think ahead and prepare for heavy rain.

Residents may also struggle to find insurance for their homes when the current Statement of Principles agreement with the Government ends in June 2013. Following this date, the statement will not be renewed.

David Sallon, inventor of HydroSack- an environmentally-friendly alternative to the sandbag- believes preparation is of utmost importance when it comes to protecting properties. “Investment in flood defence is extremely sporadic,” he said.

“ It’s often the case that local people aren’t even aware of the importance of protecting their homes and businesses, often thinking that it doesn’t seem immediately necessary.

However, with rain forecast for the foreseeable future, we could start to see an element of panic buying. Not only does this put strain on the suppliers, buildings could be damaged whilst flood protection products are in convoy. It also leaves people with little time to make strategic and informed decisions about how they are going to protect themselves from weather damage.”

With over 40 years’ experience in the design and production of non-woven fabrics and personal products, David, who runs Gravitas Ltd based in Altrincham, put his knowledge to the test and developed the HydroSack after recognising that current flood defence products are severely lacking in usability.

David added: “ Sandbags have been used for hundreds of years, despite being highly deficient. They are cumbersome, difficult to store, leak water and store toxins from flood water. Our aim was to create something that is much more effective and will revolutionise the way the community and local councils protect themselves from flooding.

“The HydroSack is much more eco-friendly, time effective and far less labour intensive. We believe it is the most important development in emergency flood protection since the invention of the sandbag.”

The HydroSack, and its sister product the HydroSnake, are made with a non-woven fabric that covers pads of super absorbent polymer (SAP). Weighing just short of a kilo, the bags are extremely lightweight, making them easy to deploy into position. Upon contact with water, the SAP crystallizes, dramatically increasing in size and weight, absorbing up to 20 litres. It then acts as an effective barrier against further flood water.

After use, the eco-friendly HydroSack can be split open, allowing the contents to be poured onto soil with no harmful effects on the environment, while the cover can be easily disposed of. In contrast, sandbags need to be taken to a waste landfill site as their contents become toxic after use.The HydroSack is manufactured in the UK by Gravitas International Ltd.

Environment Agency head of flood incident management, Craig Woolhouse, said that the current hosepipe ban in parts of the UK, means that flooding “may be far from people’s minds”, but that the risk could not be ignored. He added: “ Being prepared is vital to help reduce the risk of flooding.”

According to data from the Association of British Insurers, storms accounted for over £165 million in UK insurance claims last year. Added to the £52 million incurred in insurance claims for flooding in 2011- experts are now warning that this figure could rise again dramatically if the community is unprepared.

For more information on the HydroSack or HydroSnake, visit their website

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About Charlie Kennedy

Having studied Law, English and Philosophy, I went travelling to India for 6 weeks working in orphanages and in a leper colony. I came home and decided to study Journalism. Starting my third and final year this September, I have just been given the fanta... read more