Environment Agency
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Survey reveals people would save pets over gadgets in a flood

People would rescue pets ahead of expensive gadgets or sentimental photos from their home before it flooded, an Environment Agency survey revealed yesterday.

Despite the fact that more than half (54 per cent) of those questioned said they felt that there was little or nothing they could do to protect their home from a flood, simple steps to prepare can help reduce the risk of damage. One in six properties in England is at risk from flooding, and the Environment Agency is urging all homeowners and businesses to check their flood risk and to sign up for free river or coastal flood warnings.

Possessions to save

The survey asked people to name what one possession they would save. Pets ranked highly (23 per cent) – above laptops (ten per cent), jewellery (three per cent) and wallets (one per cent). And, perhaps unsurprisingly, some items split the sexes: almost double the number of women said photos would be their one ‘must save’ item. But most men questioned said they’d save gadgets over photos and jewellery.

People in the North East top the poll when it comes to pet rescues, with more than a third (36 per cent) of people questioned putting their animal above material possessions.

Preparing for flooding

Only 37 per cent felt that they could do a great deal or fair amount to prevent the risk of flooding to their home. However, preparing a flood plan, raising electrical sockets and checking insurance policies to see what cover exists for flood damage could reduce risk of damage.

On the eve of the two year anniversary of the devastating floods in Cumbria, and one year on from flooding in Cornwall, the Environment Agency is urging people to be aware of the risks a flood might pose.

Simple steps reduce fear of flooding

Phil Rothwell, the Environment Agency’s Head of Flood Strategy, said: “The survey shows that people are, understandably, concerned about losing their personal possessions during a flood. But there are some simple steps that can be taken to reduce this fear. Everyone should check the Environment Agency’s website to see if their house is in a flood risk area and to find out what they can do to prepare for flooding – such as signing up for free river and sea flood warnings.”

Tony Woodley, RSPCA Inspectorate Communications and Liaison Officer, said: "Pets are a much loved part of families so it is natural that they would feature high up a flood rescue list. For animal owners who live in areas at risk from high water, we urge people to keep informed of Environment Agency warnings and take steps to ensure their pets and livestock are kept safe, for example moving them to higher ground when necessary."

Reducing risk of flooding

More than 300 flood defence schemes across the country have been completed or upgraded in the past three years by the Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards. Some of the biggest projects included a new £38m scheme to protect 3,500 households in Carlisle, a £10m refurbishment of the Hull Tidal Barrier and a £1.1m sea defence between Seasalter and Graveney in Kent. Every £1 spent on protecting communities from flooding saves £8 spent repairing damage.

About the survey

  • Fieldwork was conducted between 28 October and 3 November 2011.
  • Interviews were carried out face-to-face, in home, using computer assisted personal interviewing machines, as part of the Ipsos MORI Omnibus.
  • Results are weighted to the equivalent population profile.

Further information

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