25 Days of Flood Awareness: an alternative advent calendar part three

Date published: 19 December 2018

When many of us think of an advent calendar, we picture opening one numbered door a day, behind which is a chocolate treat. But in today’s market, Christmas doesn't have to be all about sweets. In fact, the days of a morning chocolate might very well be numbered with the launch of the ‘alternative advent calendar.’

The alternative advent calendar market has boomed in recent years, meaning you can now have a daily treat of beauty or booze, toys or marshmallows or even luxury food stuffs, to name but a few.

An advent calendar that could actually save your life

Flashing back to Boxing Day 2015, the joy of the festive season was the last thing on the minds of many Rochdale residents when their homes and businesses were devastated by some of the worst local flooding in living memory brought on by Storm Eva.

Remembering this has inspired Rochdale Online to do something a little bit different to mark the start of the Christmas countdown - we have teamed up with the Environment Agency, as it launches its Flood Action Campaign 2018, to bring you an alternative advent calendar that will ensure you, your home and your family are completely flood aware and prepared in time for Christmas.

View Days 1-7

View Days 8-14

Day 15 #Survive – Prepare a Flood Kit (considerations)

  • Numbers for your Emergency Insurance, local council, emergency service, family and friends, plus local radio frequencies.
  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Bottled water
  • Wash kit and essential toiletries
  • Pack of playing cards or family games.
  • Blankets and warm clothes.
  • Wellington boots and waterproof clothing
  • First aid kit

Day 16 #Survive – Review how flood water might enter your home or business.

Consider the ways that flood water might enter your building or home and ensure you've made preparations to minimise the risk.

Consider all entry points that water could get through, not just doorways, such as – airbricks, utility service points, cable entry points.

Use other solutions for entry points where sandbags won’t work (such as silicone sealant).

Traditionally, sandbags have been used to block doorways, drains and other openings into properties as well as to weigh-down manhole covers, garden furniture and to block sink, toilet and bath drains to prevent water backing up.

  • They can keep water out for short periods which can be improved by using them in conjunction with plastic sheeting.
  • They can filter out some muddy sediments found in flood waters.
  • They are cheap and easy to obtain.

However, sandbags are relatively ineffective when compared to purpose-designed flood protection products. As a result, we strongly encourage people to use purpose made flood protection products, such as flood boards, non-return valves for plumbing and air brick covers.


Sandbags outside homes on on Heyes Street
Sandbags outside homes on on Heyes Street


Day 17 #Survive – If using sandbags, make sure your Local Authority has them.

Don’t assume that the authorities will provide you with sandbags in a flood emergency.

It is the responsibility of property owners to take appropriate action to protect their property from flooding.

Your local council may have some sandbags ready to deploy at times of flooding, but their priority is to protect the public at large. You should check with your own local authority in advance to find out what their policy is and how you can get access to sandbags before flooding starts. There may be a charge for this service.

If your local authority doesn’t supply sandbags, you can buy unfilled sandbags and a supply of sand from most DIY stores and Builders Merchants, but remember that if there is a flood expected in your area demand may exceed supply as people rush to buy them.

In an emergency you can use alternatives such as pillow cases or refuse sacks and fill them with garden soil.

You’ll need at least 6 sandbags to keep out 20cm depth of water for a standard door opening. Each sandbag will need approximately 15kg of sand.

Day 18 #Survive – Identify flood resistance and flood resilience measures.

If you haven't already done so, consider adopting some property level protection and resilience measures for your home or business premises. These can include:

  • Flood doors
  • Flood barriers
  • Sump & Pump Systems
  • SMART Airbricks
  • Non-Return Valves (NRVs)

If you already have these in place, it is absolutely vital that they are checked and maintained regularly.


One of the bridges around Watergrove demolished by the fast flowing stream
2015: One of the bridges at Watergrove demolished by the fast flowing stream


Day 19 #Survive – Give your windows and drains attention.

Doorways and windows are susceptible to flooding, including sewage. So it's a good idea to concentrate on these areas when preparing your home.

Day 20 #Survive – Keep your local waterways and drains clear.

Several factors contribute to flooding but one of the most common is blockages in watercourses and drains. If you spot something in your watercourse that should not be there, you can report it to the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on: 0800 80 70 60.

You can also help reduce flooding in your area by ensuring drains remain clear of leaves or waste.

Day 21 #Survive – Check on your community

Getting to know your neighbours is an important part of reducing the risk of floods. Don't be caught out during an emergency - make time to get to know your neighbours and their needs before an emergency situation occurs.

There may be people who could need more help than others in the case of an emergency - help that often can be provided by neighbours.

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