Bad weather at work: how can you prepare and protect your company from potential flooding?

Few things are as difficult to predict as the weather. It is therefore essential to be well prepared for climatic conditions and changing weather, both in winter and the rest of the year. For companies, it is particularly important to take precautions in case of bad weather at work in order to avoid flooding and its consequences. Although these disasters are unpredictable, you can still equip yourself to deal with them. Here’s how to keep your company safe from bad weather at work, flooding and inclement conditions.

How can you protect your company from damage caused by bad weather?

Just like fire, high winds and heavy rain can have serious consequences for your business premises. These may include damaged roof tiles, leaking gutters or damp problems.

Repairing weather damage can cost a lot of time and money. The best way to protect your company from this damage is to make sure that everything attached to the building is as secure as possible:

  • Check that all roof tiles are secure and that any potentially broken or loose tiles are replaced;
  • Ensure that all gutters are properly secured and that any blockages are removed;
  • Keep all doors, windows and gates securely closed;
  • Consolidate all fences and fence posts and remove or secure all outdoor furniture/displays.

If strong winds are forecast for your area, you should:

  • Make sure that employee and company vehicles are parked away from trees and in a safe area;
  • Ensure that company signs, outdoor seating and anything that is not fixed to the ground is brought indoors to prevent it from being blown around and causing damage.

For companies that use machinery on a daily basis, such as those in the construction industry, it is also necessary to plan ahead and put equipment in a safe place.

If you own your business premises, it is your responsibility to take care of the above. If, on the other hand, you are a tenant, this may be the responsibility of your landlord.

How can you protect your company against flooding?

Flooding at work can be a major problem and you should always assume the worst, especially if your company is located in a flood zone. So, how do you prepare?

It might sound obvious, but the best way to protect yourself against flooding is to have a robust prevention plan in place for your company, both in the short and long term.

Here are a few things to consider when preparing an emergency plan for severe weather conditions.

Short-term flood planning

Check weather warnings regularly to see if there is a risk of flooding in your area. Nowadays, weather conditions can be tracked in real-time, allowing you to receive alerts in the event of flooding near you. If your company is at risk of flooding, here’s how best to prepare:

  • Make a list of important telephone numbers, such as those of your gas and electricity suppliers and your insurer, and make sure they are easily accessible;
  • Keep all your important paper documents in a waterproof container;
  • Keep a torch and a fully charged phone handy;
  • Use sandbags to block off any areas where water could seep in, such as doors, windows or air vents.
  • Move everything that is essential to the running of your company (any stock that can be moved, servers, computer equipment, the container with important documents, etc.) to an upstairs room or as high up as possible;
  • If certain items cannot be moved or if you absolutely need them for the day-to-day running of your departments (furniture, refrigerators, etc.), try to raise them above the floor or move them away from the walls. This will speed up the drying process once the floodwaters begin to subside.
  • If flooding is imminent, unplug all electrical appliances, turn off the gas, electricity and water supply, and never enter standing water if the electricity is still on.

It is also vital to have good flood insurance. If your company’s equipment and premises are damaged or even destroyed by a flood, you need to be sure that your insurance company will cover the costs and handle your compensation claim.

Long-term flood planning

If you have already been a victim of flooding, there is, unfortunately, a high probability that you will be affected again sooner or later. So, it makes sense to have a long-term plan in place to protect your company from future flooding and to avoid business interruption as much as possible. Here’s what you should consider:

  • Choose wood or waterproof ceramic tiles for the ground floor;
  • Fit all water entry points, including doors and air vents, with flood-proof skirting and use a waterproof sealant on doors, windows and skirting boards;
  • Mount electrical outlets as high up on walls as possible;
  • Plaster walls with waterproof lime plaster and opt for a chemical damp-proofing treatment;
  • Check pipes regularly to ensure that they are not blocked, which can contribute to rising water levels, and install non-return valves on pipes and outlets to prevent water from backing up.

If you work from home and use a ground floor room as an office, it is best to move your business upstairs if you can.

Although it cannot completely protect you from flood damage to your company, careful preparation will still help you to minimise the impact of flooding on your workplace.

For more products to help equip your company for bad weather, you can visit our winter shop.

Lauren Warwick