It may not be something you think about often, but flash flooding can cause chaos for business. There are four common types of flooding in the UK. These are Fluvial (river overtopping), Pluvial (flooding from intense rainfall), Tidal (coastal and estuarial flooding) and Groundwater (saturated conditions reaching the ground surface). It is a good idea to have a contingency plan in place so you are prepared if something like this affects you.
Here is a guideline for making sure you and your workplace are prepared:
- Assess the risk of a flood – something to look at is whether you live near the sea or a river, as this will greatly increase the chances of a flood in your area. If not, you could still be at risk from extremely heavy rain fall, a burst water pipe or something similar. You can visit the website www.environment-agency.gov.uk or call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 to see if your property is at risk.
- Draw up a flood plan – this will mean you are well prepared which in turn will reduce the damage to the property and impact on your business. A flood plan should outline all procedures to be taken if need be and ensure the safety of everyone in the building. You need to include things like what is expected of employees and any duties they may have in the event of a flood. Write down all the important contacts you have (for example, your insurance company, suppliers and employee contacts) in the flood plan, and include if/where you have a temporary workplace.
- Make sure all your data is backed up and try to have a way to remotely access it, meaning people may be able to work from another premises if need be. This will reduce the impact and cost a flood would have on your company.
- You can take steps to reduce potential damage, like putting everything of high importance/value in places less likely to flood. This could be on a high shelf or the second floor of your building if there is one. It is advisable to put any servers up above ground level as well.
- Check if you’re insurance covers you for flooding. The aftermath of a flood is potentially very expensive, and would be a bad time to find out your business has to fork out for the repairs!
- Having sandbags or another form of flood protection could reduce the impact of a flood, and may help bring the cost of insuring against a flood down.
After a flood it is important no one re-enters the premises until it is deemed safe. Risk assessments will need to be done to ensure this, and nothing gas or electrical can be used until it has been checked and certified as safe. Anything damaged beyond repair will need to be disposed of as soon as possible, for example any damaged flooring. When clearing up after a flood, be aware that flood water can contain different contaminates and everyone helping should wear appropriate protective clothing to ensure their safety. Also, the structure of the building may need to be check as the flood could have damaged the structure.