Mitigating Flood Risks
Flooding can pose a significant threat to businesses of all sizes, potentially causing severe damage and disruption. From property damage to business interruption, the consequences of a flood can be financially crippling. Regrettably, these weather events are no longer rare incidents and proactive measures can help mitigate these risks and protect your business from the devastating effects of flooding. In this blog post, we will explore practical steps and strategies to safeguard your business.
Understand Your Flood Risk
Before you can effectively mitigate flood risk, it's crucial to understand the specific vulnerabilities your business faces.
Whether you have operated from the same location for years, or recently moved in, assess the long-term flood risk in your area and sign up for flood warnings. Start by checking flood maps and consulting with local authorities to determine your property's flood risk zone, this knowledge will guide your risk mitigation efforts.
- The Environment Agency flood telephone helpline, the first port of call for the most up-to-date advice for your area. Their number is 0345 988 1188.
- You can also sign up for Floodline Warnings Direct by calling 0345 988 1188 or online at Environment Agency
- If you need to make a claim, please find more information and guidance on how do so at Expression Insurance claim
- Call the National Grid immediately if you smell gas or suspect a leak, their number is 0800 111 999.
When faced with the threat of flooding and potential flood-related damage to your property and belongings, consider the following tips to enhance your safety and minimise property and possession losses.
Turn off electricity, gas, mains water supplies and shut off flow valves for propane gas or oil storage.
· This prevents electrical hazards, as flooding can cause short circuits and electrical fires if water comes into contact with live electrical systems. Turning off electricity reduces the risk of electrical shock and fire. Flooding can displace gas lines and cause gas leaks, which can lead to explosions and fires. Turning off the gas supply prevents these dangers.
· Floodwater often carries pollutants and contaminants. If the mains water supply is left on, there is a risk of water contamination, which can impact public health and require costly water treatment measures.
· Shutting off utilities helps prevent damage to appliances, electrical systems, and gas-related equipment, reducing repair and replacement costs.
· With utilities off, emergency responders and individuals can move about more safely during a flood without the added risk of electrocution, gas explosions, or contaminated water exposure. Disconnect appliances connected by rigid pipes to the mains supply. This prevents the pipes from snapping if the appliances float off.
Elevate Electrical Systems and Equipment
Floodwaters can cause extensive damage to electrical systems and equipment. By elevating these components, such as electrical panels and wiring, you can minimise damage and reduce the risk of electrical fires during a flood.
Raise Critical Equipment and Inventory
Raise essential equipment, inventory, and valuable documents to a higher level within your building, smaller items should be removed from the property for safekeeping, reducing potential damage and minimise downtime.
Ensure immovable furniture is tied down and secure prevent it from floating and causing damage to other items.
Often there are insurance policy conditions around keeping stock off the floor, so this can be essential for your policy cover to operate.
Flood Barriers and Sandbags
Use temporary flood barriers and sandbags to prevent water intrusion during a threatened or impending flood. They can be used to cover the building's vents, doors, lower windows, and air bricks to reduce the amount of water that gets in.
Having these barriers readily available and a plan in place for their use can be invaluable in protecting your business.
Check you glass frontage
Check your glass frontage as it’s not just accidents or malicious acts that cause damage to your shop front, the onslaught of the Great British winter weather brings with it its own perils. Flooding can cause water damage and cracks to your glass. Risks can be minimised by investing in robust weather resistant glass, after all, your shop front is open to the elements 365 days each year.
Implement Proper Drainage Systems:
Ensure that your property has effective drainage systems in place. Regular maintenance and clearing of drainage systems can prevent water buildup and minimize flood risks.
Backflow Prevention Valves
Consider installing backflow prevention valves in your sewage and drainage systems to prevent water from backing up into your business during a flood. Block sinks and baths with a weighed down plug as plugs can let in floodwater.
Create a Business Continuity Plan
Develop a business continuity plan, factoring in weather events such as flood, that outlines procedures for employees in the event of an incident. This includes evacuation plans, communication protocols, and data backup strategies. Having a plan in place can help you prepare for the unexpected and keep your business running if disaster strikes.
Emergency Response Training
Ensure that your employees are well-trained in flood emergency response. Conduct drills and provide guidance on evacuation procedures and safety measures for example:
- Once the flood has passed, remove all coverings to allow air to circulate as soon as possible.
- Only re-enter your property when you are sure it is safe to do so.
Be aware of rogue traders and unsolicited contact from those who may attempt to take advantage of areas affected by flooding. At Expression Insurance our expert claims team are ready and here to support you in your time of need and supports the use of local tradespeople.
Review cover - Business interruption cover
Business Interruption provides stability, should you face the significant risk of having to temporarily pause business activity.
If your business is forced to close following a flood, the financial losses for your business, even for a short time, can be considerable. A flooded building can take 2 months to dry out, or longer in the case of a severe flood.
If you are unable to operate during this period, business interruption cover can help minimise financial worries & help keep your business afloat. It’s important to have records to back up any business interruption claim so ensure these can be accessed even if there is damage at the premises.
Business Interruption can cover either loss of profit or loss of income (Expression Insurance offer loss of income as standard, providing a maximum limit for gross revenue over a 12-month period. The actual amount paid is calculated on your business performance, representing as closely as is reasonable and practical what the gross income would have been had a claim not occurred). Some insurers provide cover for 'loss of profit' which will pay you less than 'loss of income’ and can be tricky to demonstrate in the event of a claim. Business Interruption for loss of income / revenue or increased cost of working can support with the following costs:
· Employees’ salaries
· Cost of relocating your business
· Mortgage or rent payments
· Wages for employees
Small business owners need to fulfil their part of the insurance bargain too, by taking reasonable precautions to prevent bad things happening. This means having appropriate precautions in place, maintaining your property properly and obeying the law – especially in terms of health and safety.
Mitigating the risk of flooding in your business requires a proactive approach and a combination of measures. While it's impossible to eliminate the risk entirely, these strategies can significantly reduce the impact of flooding on your business. Remember that an integral part of flood risk mitigation is securing the right insurance coverage. Expression Insurance specialise in business insurance providing the financial protection you need to recover from a flood event. With the right combination of preparedness, insurance, and proactive measures, you can protect your business and ensure its long-term resilience in the face of flood risks.