With more than 5 million properties at risk of flooding in the UK, flooding is listed as one of the most serious ‘natural’ hazards on the National Risk Register. Although children are often described as ‘resilient’ and are seen to be able to ‘bounce back’, not involving children and young people throughout the planning and preparation process could leave them vulnerable during such situations.
Children can be greatly affected both during and after flood events. The recovery process is known to take months, even years in some cases and the disruption can have unforeseen affects on a child’s life. They can experience a period of uncertainty and familiar surroundings and routines can become disrupted. The affects of flooding can make children feel scared when it rains, isolated and worried about future flood events. They also see adults under great stress and strain and witness the extensive damage that flooding can have.
Flooding can have the following impacts on children:
- Temporary loss of home
- Relocating, and in some circumstances more than once
- Loss of possessions
- Lack of school attendance due to closure
- Friendship networks disrupted due to school closures and relocation
A 2016 Save The Children / Lancaster University report acknowledged that currently in England and Wales there is no systematic or statutory flood education programme in schools (or in the wider community). However, learning in school about flood warnings, how to make a flood plan and flood risk was identified by children in the report as a key priority in helping to build their resilience. Children should be given more information before, during and after a flood so they know what to expect, are able to prepare and are aware of how they can contribute. Incorporating children in the flood planning and preparation process could potentially improve and contribute towards the household and communities resilience. For example, one way of including children could be something as simple as having a blank personal household flood plan. Filling this in would ensure they understand the process and allow them to feel in control, empower them and reduce uncertainty.
Newground’s ‘Don’t be scared, be prepared’ pack has simple yet vital information such as:
- Why flooding happens
- Flood warnings and what they mean
- Top tips on the actions you should take during a flood
- What to have in your flood kit
This pack is fun and easy to follow for children and young people so they can plan and prepare for future flooding.