Natural disasters are getting ever more common as we see significant changes to our weather. Since 1998 there has been at least one major flood every year, destroying homes and businesses alike. If your business is in a flood risk area, it’s important to protect it from disaster by having a flood plan in place that ensures the safety of your employees and your business assets.
A flood plan is a written document that outlines how your business will respond to a flood and should include the following:
- A list of important contacts (Floodline, utility companies, insurance company, suppliers etc.)
- A strategy for protecting business assets, staff and ensuring recovery efforts are not hindered
- A map or description of key locations for important documents and items (service shut off valves, first aid kits etc.)
The best way to stay in the know is to sign up to the Floodline warning system, a free service that notifies you of flood warnings in your area. You can sign up by calling 0345 988 1188.
Flood Warning Codes
Understanding the risk that flooding poses to your business is the first part of building your flood plan. There are three types of warning code currently in use:
Flood alert – Your area may possibly flood, take necessary precautions. This warning is usually shown two hours to two days before a possible flood.
Flood Warning – Flooding is expected in your local area, take action (put your flood plan into action). This warning is shown half an hour to one day before a flood.
Severe Flood Warning – Dangerous flooding imminent, take immediate action to ensure safety. This warning is only used when flooding poses a risk to life.
Business Flood Plan Checklist
When it comes to floods, preparation is key to mitigating against damage. By working through this quick checklist you will be able to identify if your business is 100% prepared, as well as those areas that need further improvement.
Key areas to consider in your flood plan are:
- human resources
- finance and purchasing
Calculate Your Flood Risk
- Is your business located in a flood area?
- Have you signed up to Floodline warnings?
- Do you have a flood response plan in place?
- Do have a list of important contacts (Floodline, insurance company, local authority etc.)?
- Do you know where and how to shut off all utilities to prevent further problems?
- Have you got all the necessary contacts that you would need to notify in a flood situation (clients, suppliers etc.)?
- Do you know how you will keep stock or company assets safe and secure?
- If you possess hazardous materials (chemicals, oils and other substances) are they stored safely so as not to contaminate flood water?
- Do you know how to shut off your utilities in the event of a flood?
- Have you got a stockpile of useful materials (sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting) to help protect your property and stock?
- Is stock, electrical equipment, computers stored somewhere that would be affected by flooding?
- What is your fastest evacuation route that is suitable for use during a flood?
- Do all you staff know your evacuation plan and when to implement it?
- Where should your staff safely gather for shelter and help?
- Have your staff been trained on what to do in the event of a flood?
- Have you got your insurance documents in an easy to access location?
- Is you policy up to date and does it cover your business in the event of a flood?
- What’s your policy number?
- Would you be able to provide your insurer with all the information they need in order to process the claim?
Understanding Your Utilities
In the event of a flood, your utilities (water, gas, and electricity) can be a hazard if not shut off. For example, flood water infiltrating a plug socket that is connected to the mains is a serious concern as water is a very good conductor of electricity.
Safety is your number one concern, so you should know where your utilities respective switch off valves are, and how to operate them. Your staff should also be aware of where each valve is located to ensure maximum efficiency. You can note down this information in your business flood plan, and use it as training material. In the event that you cannot get to your switch off valves, you can speak to your utility providers and ask them to do it for you. Their contact details should form part of your plan.
Preventing Business Disruption
Your business flood plan should include a list of important assets and their locations. This will help prevent any disruption to your business when your premises are back in order.
The first thing to think about is where important documents are stored, and what format they are in (digital or paper). You should move both to a safe, elevated space away from any flood water. It is also advisable to store copies of important documents off-site as a back-up.
Next you should think about your furniture. Can you move items to higher ground or safer locations quickly and efficiently? If not, you should try to tie them down to prevent them floating away and causing further damage to property and people. If possible, buy water resistant items of furniture.
Protecting Your Building
During a flood certain products will help protect your building and its contents. These include sandbags, plastic sheeting and wooden pallets. It is important to understand what products can help, whether you have a stockpile of these ready to use and how to best utilise them. For example, pallets help raise stock off the floor and away from flood water, plastic sheeting wrapped around furniture and appliances will help protect them from damage.
Your plan should list the products you have, along with information that shows where they would be most effective. On this checklist, you should also note down where to find each product, allowing members of staff to access them quickly and efficiently.
Ensuring a Safe Evacuation
The most important thing in the event of a flood is the safety of your staff and yourself. It is important that every member of your team understand their role in the event of a flood, and the safest way to exit the premises.
This means that annual training is a must. The training should include routes to exit the building, a plan for protecting company assets, and contact information to ensure swift communication. In the event of a flood, every member of staff needs to understand how they can prevent business disruption, as well as how to ensure their own safety.
For more information on preparing your business for flooding, the Environmental Agency have prepared a useful planning guide which you can find here:
Should your business have been in the unfortunate situation of being struck by flooding and you find yourself in the process of returning to business as quickly as possible, Tangible Building Solutions can help. We’re a specialist building company who help homes and businesses repair and restore property following flood damage. Please feel free to call us on 0800 328 4188 for help and advice.