Flood Planning For Businesses
Flooding is an ever-present threat to businesses in low-lying areas. From a financial and operational perspective, it can be incredibly costly to suffer the consequences of a flood breach.
Preparing for flooding is often overlooked. It can be difficult to imagine if you have never had a flood at your business. However, flood damage in the UK is estimated at 2 billion annually, and the average cost to an affected business is over £80,000. A flood will severely impact your business, so it is essential to plan.
In this guide, we will look into:
- What is flood resistance?
- How to check flood risk for my business
- Creating a flood plan for your business
- Sign up for flood warnings.
- Get flood insurance
- Flood protection
- Develop a list of important contacts
- Essential documents, vehicles and equipment
- What is the average cost to a business when flooding occurs?
What is flood resistance?
Flood resilience is an approach that aims to reduce the damage caused by a flood once the water enters your business premises. Good flood resilience allows the water to be quickly drained and enables the property to be easily cleaned, dried and returned to normal.
You need to implement a strategy that reduces the amount of floodwater entering your premises during a flood, using various products installed to limit the entry points for the water to get through.
For your flood resistance to be successful, you must ensure that every water entry point is protected. If you miss a single water entry point, your flood resistance plan will be futile as water will seep through.
If your business undertakes flood resistance measures, ensure that these do not exceed one meter in height. This is deemed the maximum safe height to prevent water from entering without risking structural damage to your building. Any flood barriers must only sit at this limit.
How to check flood risk for my business
To check whether you are in a flood risk area, check on the government’s website and look at their long-term flood risk checker.
Even if you’re at relatively low risk, we highly recommend preparing a flood plan for the worst-case scenario.
Creating a flood plan for your business
Creating a flood plan for your business is essential. We have put together this simple-to-use checklist so that you can ensure your business is flood-proofed.
Sign up to flood alerts.
Ensure you’re already signed up for the government’s flood warning updates. You can sign up for these here at the government flood warning page.
When the alert initially comes through, monitor the forecast in detail. Make sure you can access your flood plan and flood resilience products.
Ensure that staff on site understand the flood alert and the steps to take if the warning reaches the next level.
At this point, move all equipment to safety and set up any available flood-resistance tools. This includes moving all vehicles off the premises to the designated safe location.
If you can, start evacuating any staff not part of the flood plan team, as this will help reduce the final footfall if the risk becomes “Severe”.
Severe flood warning
When your business receives a severe flood warning, you must evacuate everyone from the premises and into safety And ensure all gas, electricity and water supplies are switched off.
Get flood insurance
Make sure you have flood insurance for your business, as flooding is low risk but very high impact. According to the National Environment Agency, the average cost of flooding to a business is £82,000, enough to put most small businesses in a precarious position.
Ensure you have the following covered to protect your premises from floodwater entering the property:
- Flood doors: Make sure all the door seals are in perfect condition and all locking points work smoothly. If they don’t, ensure you book them in for maintenance. A faulty flood door can make the rest of the flood resistance plan redundant.
- Flood barriers: Check the seals for any signs of perishing or damage, both within the channels and on the boards. If these are damaged, ensure they are fixed and correctly sealed.
- Automatic Air Bricks: These are self-closing, so you must remove the front cover to access the parts inside the Air Brick for cleaning. Ensure the front cover is also clean and clear of potential blockages.
- Sump & Pump Systems: Check the power source to the pump is working and ensure the pump is level and upright within the sump. Check it’s correct by filling the sump with water to see if it floats and engages the pump. Then, check the discharge pipe is clear of any potential blockages.
- Non-Return Valves: Ensure all the Non-Return valves are sufficient and look out for any wear and tear. Review any flap gates on the premises and ensure they work correctly.
- Water Entry Points: Look around your property for any gaps or vents within the brickwork that could allow water to seep through. Double-check that the pipes and cables entering the building are sufficiently covered.
Develop a list of important contacts
Collecting all critical contacts in one document is integral to the flooding plan. It’s essential that if you incur a flood, you’ll have the vital contacts readily available.
The details to include are:
- Your insurance company.
- Staff personal details.
- Landlord (If you have one).
- Environment agency flood line and incident hotline.
Environment agency’s flood line: 0345 988 1188
Important documents, vehicles and equipment
Ensure you have identified any vital documents, equipment and vehicles within the plan. You must locate these critical components and ensure that they are stored in a safe and secure space.
Identify equipment for business continuity and ensure they are stored in a safe area (e.g. fridges in a restaurant), thus keeping any unmitigated damage to a minimum.
Vehicles aren’t just valuable but an essential means of escape/transportation and must be kept safe from flood waters, accessible and connected to a safe escape route.
You should consider the following essential documents, equipment and vehicles:
- Vehicles: Cars, EVs, trucks, SUVs and even boats. High-ground-clearance vehicles have priority as they can navigate deeper waters better than standard sedans. Some high-risk properties may have boats with oars and life jackets for severe situations.
- Electronic files/Data: Ensure all critical documents and data are regularly backed up on an online cloud storage system. We could not put more emphasis on this, as losing crucial data like contracts, mortgages and deeds during a flood is catastrophic.
- Equipment: Emergency kits, waterproof containers, flashlights, portable radios, drinking water, sanitation, mobile phones and chargers and life jackets should all be kept accessible and safe from flood waters.
- Note: hazardous materials (e.g. a chemical lab or industrial repository) should be moved to higher ground or protected from flood waters.
What is the average cost to a business when flooding occurs?
The average cost of flood damage to a business is £82,000, according to the Environment Agency.
The main takeaway of this guide -besides the practical advice- is that while flooding is unlikely for most businesses, suffering flood damage is something many businesses never recover from.
Any business with an intention of being smart and sustainable would find this common-sense risk-conscious approach a no-brainer– and it’s why big corporations actually come out largely unscathed from flooding or any natural hazard, for that matter.
Taking some time to prepare for floods (and any natural hazard, for that matter!) not only ensures your staff’s safety but may prevent you from going out of business even if your business is doing really well!
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