It feels like only yesterday that we were enjoying the warmest and driest September since records began, October then arrived with an almighty thud bringing with it reports of heavy rain, localised flooding and 70mph winds across the country.
Whilst many will be worrying about the devastating impact these weather conditions can have on their families and homes, businesses must also be aware of the flood risk and be better prepared.
According to the Environment Agency, most businesses can save up to 90% on the cost of lost stock and moveable equipment by taking action to prepare in advance for flooding. Here is some advice and information to keep you “flood-wise” this winter.
Types of flooding – know the risks
Surface water flooding
Surface water flooding is caused by the sheer volume of water falling or flowing onto the ground which overwhelms existing drainage systems. There is usually limited advance warning of heavy downpours of rain, so it’s best to be prepared!
Coastal or river flooding
River flooding occurs when rivers overflow or burst their banks due to high or intense rainfall; whereas coastal flooding arises from high tides or severe weather breaching sea defences.
It’s easier to predict this type of flooding, however this year many of us witnessed storms rampaging coastal businesses and flood plain dwellings, leaving total devastation in their wake so being prepared is always wise.
This is the most problematic type of flooding as it can often last for weeks or even months. It is caused if the geology of the area is predominantly chalk (thus containing layers of water-bearing rock, clay or sand for natural drainage). Without boring you with too much geology, in a nutshell, in summer months some natural springs, streams and rivers are dry, but in winter the deluge of rainfall activates them to ensure that groundwater can be collected and discharged to prevent flooding. Exceptional periods of rain can place too much pressure on this natural drainage cycle causing roads and man-made drainage systems to be overwhelmed.
Is your business at risk?
Even if you’re not located near a river or the coast, every business is susceptible to surface or groundwater flooding, or maybe burst water mains or sewer overflows so it’s important to be vigilant during these wet winter months.
The Environment Agency’s Floodline Service can tell you if your business is in a flood risk area – simply call 0845 988 1188. Lines are open 24hrs and calls are charged at local rate.
It may also be worth heading over to the Know Your Flood Risk campaign site. Their mission is to raise awareness of the risks of flooding from all sources. Buy a flood report or download a free guide.
Have a flood plan
Like your Health & Safety or Emergency Procedure plans it is important to draw up and communicate your flood plan to your staff. Make sure it is accessible at all times. It should contain what steps you need to take to prepare your business, how quickly you should respond to a flood, emergency contact details, and how to keep your staff safe.
Reduce flood damage
No matter what the flood risk potential, it is important to store valuable items higher up, and make your business more resistant to flooding.
Prevention techniques can involve:
o Installing permanent or removal barriers to seal doors, windows and openings
o Raising electrical sockets, wiring and controls and equipment
o Backing-up customer data on a regular basis
o Ensuring drains are running efficiently
o Obtaining disinfectant and sandbags
Flood clean up
It must be said that the first priority after any flood is to ensure the safety of yourself, your employees and members of the public who may enter your premises. Never re-enter your premises until you are certain they are safe – there is a risk of electrical faults, structural damage and contaminated sewage.
During the clean-up it is important to provide appropriate protective clothing for hands and feet. At Key we sell thick tread wellington safety boots and PVC chemical gauntlets which are abrasion and tear resistant.
To drain away excessive water from your property you should consider using one of the following power based drainage systems:
Stainless steel submersible pump – for use on cellars, sinks, cisterns and baths. The minimum water depth must be 50mm.
Water pump petrol engine – suitable when no mains power supply is available. Combine with a lay flat hose or solid wall hose to pump out water at a rate of 600ltr/min.
To dry out your property it is important to introduce as much ventilation as possible. You may need to apply gentle heat, and use a dehumidifier to extract moisture and prevent the build-up of mildew and mould.
We hope you’ve found this brief guide useful, it’s definitely worth heading over to the Environment Agency or Know Your Flood Risk websites for more information.
The prospect of flooding is never pleasant, but the realities of dealing with it are far worse so it’s best to protect your business and employees. For our full range of flood prevention products head over to our winter shop, or email one of our customer care team on firstname.lastname@example.org.