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Flood Planning and Prevention

Published: 07/12/2017

Flood Planning and Prevention

Flood Planning and Prevention

As winter approaches it is time to start preparing for bad weather and Stuart Daws, Risk Control Manager, Allianz offers his advice on the benefits of creating a flood plan and how preparation against flooding can help protect your business.

Recent years have seen increased frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions and insurers very much expect this trend to continue. This means more businesses face being exposed to flood damage in the future. Whilst we can do little to control the weather, having an understanding of it's potential will help you plan and protect your property from its worst effects.

A Flood Plan is essential to help you prepare and therefore protect your business. Further on how to do this is included in the Environment Agency publication would your business stay afloat? – which can be downloaded here.

As we already know, by far the best form of protection is prevention and the message is—build resilience into your business to lessen the impact of flooding.

The first step is to understand the potential for your location to flood. The environment agency can help you do this, they highlight areas that are known or have the potential to flood, log on to their website to check your location and then sign up for flood alert warnings. Flood early warnings enable you to enact your emergency procedures as quickly as possible. When looking at your potential to flood it is also helpful to establish the depth that flood waters might reach. Considering this information against the nature of your building and business assets will influence the plans that you make.

Flood planning is not just about what you do during a flood, but focuses largely on what measures you can take before a flood occurs, e.g. if your business is heavily dependent on a single machine or other asset, can it be permanently moved to a higher level out of harms way, or can you install flood barriers to protect it?. Do you have electrical installations in place below the predicted flood depth and can they therefore be raised? IT equipment, servers and telecoms are particularly vulnerable to water damage, but often only inhabit a relatively small area – so can they be moved to a higher level or relocated to upper floors? Such equipment should never be stored in basements.

Good general premises management will also minimise the risk of flooding and reduce the resultant water damage, e.g. regular drain and gutter cleaning can stop back flow of water from building up during heavy rainfall. Routine testing and servicing of sub-pumps will help ensure that they perform when you need them to.

If you have hazardous or highly susceptible goods on site, ensure that they are stored at an appropriate height and that storage systems and packaging are suitably watertight. Sandbags are an inexpensive solution and whilst they might buy you some time, they will not prevent water from entering the building. Depending on your business assets and level of risk, it could be worth investing in more sophisticated flood barriers. Insurers and other third party suppliers can advise on appropriate products prior to purchasing them – so do ask for our advice. 

Once you've built resilience in to the business to lessen the risk/impact of a flood and developed of your emergency planning of what to do during the flood, you should also cover what to do afterwards. This specifically relates to what you need to do to get your business back to full operations as soon as possible.  Consider such things as who is authorised to enter the building after a flood? There's every chance that water will be contaminated from sewage and other pollutants and potentially hazardous to health and an important area to control. Think about who needs to be contacted by whom and when, e.g. your insurers, suppliers, customers, employees, landlords, tenants, and utility companies. Your plan should include up to date contact details for all of these or any other relevant groups. Once you've finalised your plan make sure that you test it and then train your employees to understand how to action it. Also remember to keep copies secure and away from the premises. 

Your flood plan should link closely with and form part of your overall business continuity planning. If you require support with this the Allianz website is just one place that you can find helpful information about this. www.riskdirector.co.uk

Any disruption to a business can impact heavily on its profit and reputation and can sometimes prove too difficult to recover from, but what you can achieve through appropriate preparation and planning will ultimately help you weather the storm. 

Helpful Links 

Environment Agency – would your business stay afloat? – advice about flood planning.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/410606/LIT_5284.pdf

Met Office alerts sign up

https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKMETOFFICE/subscriber/new?pop=t

Met Office weather warnings

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings#?

Government flood assessment 

https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk

Flood information service

https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings

Floods in Wales

https://www.naturalresources.wales/flooding/check-flood-warnings/?lang=en

Flood alerts for Scotland 

https://floodline.sepa.org.uk/floodupdates/ 

The National Flood Forum is a charity who help and support those at risk of flooding

https://nationalfloodforum.org.uk/

 

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