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Safety warning as Storm Dennis approaches

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding local people about the dangers of flooding as Storm Dennis brings heavy rain and strong winds to the region.

With the bad weather likely to last over the weekend, the Service wants drivers to understand and recognise the dangers of surface water on the roads.

Group Manager Karen Adams said: "Very often, surface water doesn't appear very deep but there can be unseen dips in the road which then catch drivers unaware. There is also a risk of drivers in larger vehicles driving through water without dropping their speed, which then creates a 'bow wave' effect – and this can cause significant risks for other vehicles. While this wet weather continues, please drive to the conditions and be particularly cautious at fords, where water levels can rise a lot in a short space of time."

If you are travelling through areas affected by flooding, please follow this advice:

  • If you see a sign to say that the road is closed due to flooding, remember the sign is there for a reason. Don't try to drive through or you might get stuck.
  • Wherever possible, don't drive through standing water – as well as the water damaging your car, there may be hazards under the water you can't see.
  • If you are driving a larger vehicle, do not go through flood water at speed as this creates a 'bow wave' that can then cause flooding to other vehicles or adjacent properties.
  • If heavy rain is making visibility difficult when driving, pull over if possible and safe to do so.
  • Remember that roads will be slippery during wet conditions.
  • Don't try and walk through floodwater that is above knee level, as the force of the water could easily knock you off your feet. There is also a danger of open manholes, trenches or other hazards that you can't see.

Residents are also reminded not to call the Fire and Rescue Service about fallen trees unless there is a risk to life or property. Please contact your local council's Highways department instead.

The Service is also reminding people of the risks along the coast, with rockfalls more likely to happen during prolonged periods of rain.

If you intend visiting the coast this weekend, take notice of signs and stay away from the edge and base of cliffs. Other vital advice to follow when near the coast includes:

  • Stay away from the edge of the cliff top – admire the view from a safe distance, and keep dogs on leads.
  • Stay away from the base of cliffs – rock falls and landslides can happen at any time. If you are trapped under a rock fall, the likelihood is you will die.
  • Pay attention to warning signs – they are there for your safety.
  • Check tide times before you set off to avoid being cut off by incoming tides.
  • Be aware of mud flows extending across the beaches – don't get stuck.
  • Remember that the size and strength of waves is far greater during storm conditions, so stay away from the water's edge and keep dogs on a lead.

Updates on weather forecasts and road conditions can be found on social media and via local radio and media websites, so check your route before you set off, and allow extra time for any necessary diversions.

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