How Businesses Can Plan for Flooding
Flooding is the most common and widespread natural disaster in the United Kingdom. Since 1998 there has been at least one serious flood every year.
Businesses are more likely to be flooded than damaged by fire. As the climate changes we can expect to see more extreme weather – and more floods.
So by taking action to prepare in advance for flooding, most businesses could save between 20 and 90 per cent on the cost of lost stock and movable equipment. And also save some of the trouble and stress. Here are some of the actions that you can take to make sure that your business is as well prepared as possible – and stays afloat.
How do I find out if my Business is at risk from flooding?
Check the government’s website – www.gov.uk/flood
What is a Flood Plan?
Just as businesses have health and safety policies and contingency plans for an emergency, they should also have flood plans.
A flood plan is a written document that outlines how your business will respond to a flood. This should be well communicated to your staff. They need to know the plan and understand their role in it. After that, flood plans should be periodically reviewed and a copy kept offsite at an out of risk location.
What to do in a Flood Emergency
- Close the business to avoid people becoming trapped. Your location may be safe, but access roads may become submerged.
- If staff/customers become trapped in the premises, they will need food, drink, first aid etc.
- Remove company vehicles to a safer location.
- Gas/water/electricity terminals may need to be switched off.
- Obtain emergency lighting and small generators.
- Remove valuable stock and contents that might be contaminated by flood water.
- Contact customers and suppliers to keep them informed.
- Keep a note in your mobile of insurance claims helpline numbers. Similarly, note other useful emergency phone numbers including local authorities, gas and electricity.
How to Reduce the Damage of Flooding
If your business is unable to relocate to safer areas, there are things that you can do to limit damage and speed up business recovery following flooding. However, you need to decide which of these are practical for your business.
- Install demountable purpose made flood barriers or boards to doors and other openings.
- Install automatic flood proof air bricks or the provision of specially designed air brick covers to prevent water ingress.
- Fit non-return valves or backflow valves to drainage systems.
- Install resilient flooring.
- Raise electrical fuse boxes, sockets, controls and wiring above likely flood levels.
- Locating key stock and contents (including IT and Telecoms equipment) at a higher level. Ensure data and software is backed up regularly and stored offsite – in a place unlikely to be affected by the same event.
- Anchoring fuel and other liquid storage tanks to prevent flotation.
You can also aid your business recovery with these steps…
- Keep a record of equipment and contents to speed purchase of replacements.
- Agree alternative premises for staff and storage if necessary.
- Maintain contact lists including commercial estate agencies (in case temporary relocation is necessary), builders, contractors, IT specialists etc, so that reinstatement of the damage can begin.
- Keep staff informed of the situation.
- Regularly update major customers and suppliers. An email distribution list may be helpful if there are many people to keep informed (making sure GDPR compliant).
- Maintain a log to note all actions taken and expenses incurred.
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