Tens of thousands of homes were left without water this weekend after pipes burst following last week’s freezing weather. Since then, water companies have been working around the clock to fix the problem.
Some families have been left with no water at all, while others have been urged to cut back on water consumption due to low pressure. Households across London and the South East have been urged to use as little water as possible as demand is high.
So what should you do next?
If you have no water
:: Stock up on bottled water at your local shop. Use it to drink but also to do things such as brushing your teeth.
:: Take empty bottles to a water distribution site and fill them up. Thames Water said the water from its alternative water sites have passed quality tests and are safe for young babies. You can find your nearest distribution sites on its Twitter feed.
:: If you have a gym membership, take a shower there. Likewise if your workplace has showering facilities, it’s worth heading in a bit earlier to wash.
:: Speak to your water company. Southern Water told HuffPost UK it is prioritising supplies for vulnerable customers and is providing bottled water where necessary.
:: Restaurants which serve alcohol are obliged to provide water free of charge (providing they have water themselves), so don’t be afraid to ask for a drink.
If you want to save water
If you haven’t run out, but are operating with low pressure, here are some tips to see you through:
:: Don’t use water for anything that isn’t essential.
:: Where possible, take short showers rather than baths.
:: Don’t leave taps running unnecessarily. Turn water off while brushing your teeth or shaving.
:: Only run washing machines and dishwashers when you have a full load. According to Friends of the Earth, if you fill up the dishwasher completely each time you run it, you’ll use less water than you would doing the washing up.
:: When making hot drinks, boil only as much water as you need.
:: Don’t flush things down the toilet unnecessarily. For example, if you’ve used a tissue to blow your nose pop it in a bin rather than flushing.
:: Fill a jug with tap water and place it in your fridge. That way, you won’t have to run your tap for ages to make sure the water runs cold before you fill your glass.
:: If you’re in a flat or house-share, it’s worth sharing these steps with housemates so you’re all on the same page.
If you’re worried about your pipes
Members of the public have been urged to check their own pipes for bursts or leaks and call a plumber if necessary. Water companies said outside taps are especially vulnerable to freezing temperatures and bursts may not be obvious.
Those responsible for commercial premises have also been urged to make sure their pipes have not been damaged.
For future cold spells, check out these 10 simple steps from Thames Water on weather-proofing your home plumbing.