As the Met Office have issued severe weather warnings for heavy rain and potential flooding it’s important businesses are prepared to deal with the issued flooding may bring.
Here are our tips for both preparing for flooding and how to proceed in the event your business is flooded.
Pre-Flood checklist – steps to consider if flooding is likely:
- Be alert and listen out for flood warnings on your local TV and radio stations. The Environment Agency has a 24-hour Floodline information service available on 0345 988 1188 and a website that provides frequently updated alerts and guidance: https://www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk
- Contact your local council to establish the whereabouts or plans for any sandbag or board distribution - and establish what doors and other ingress points need to be blocked.
- Keep your insurance policy documents and claims numbers in a water-tight bag in a safe, accessible place.
- Maintain an adequate level of security to prevent theft and burglary. Ensure that fire protection is still in operation. (Fire following flood is a real risk.)
- Consider preparing a 'Flood Pack' and make sure that all staff know where it is. Suggestions for content include: torches, battery-operated radios (with spare batteries), a first aid kit, warm clothes or blankets, and bottles of water.
- Ensure any staff members have a plan for evacuating, including access to vehicles and routes away from floods.
- If evacuating staff, ensure that you have contact details or a cascade communication plan for all staff accessible.
- Check that computer records are backed up – ideally offsite.
- Relocate or elevate susceptible stock and equipment and consider whether any replacement stock should be pre-ordered to minimise business interruption after a flood. As a minimum, stock and vulnerable equipment or documents should not be stored directly on the floor and should be placed on pallets or shelves.
- Check that any flammable liquids tanks (including external tanks) are safely anchored. Underground tanks should be full, and any empty tanks filled with water to reduce / remove buoyancy*.
- If you receive warnings of imminent flooding, be ready to switch off gas and electricity supplies but listen for advice on your local radio station. If water levels start to enter your premises, turn off the gas and the electricity at the main fuse board.
- Have a map of your local area handy. If you decide to evacuate, bear in mind that some local roads may already be blocked and impassable. Instruct all staff not to attempt to drive across flooded roads.
- Plan salvage operations: e.g. call for support, such as specialist contractors (they will be busy in a flood-emergency, so it is best to call them as soon as possible. If critical, a pre-flood contract can be defined).
- If premises are flooded, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Wilby claims telephone number is 01422 398 612 out of hours you can call our emergency line on 0345 601 8709
Post-flood checklist – steps to be taken if your business premises are flooded:
- Remember your insurance company is there to help.
- Follow advice, such as evacuation notifications and procedures, given by the Environment Agency and your local council.
- Ensure that all staff are advised not to touch any electrical equipment that could be affected by water.
- Check electrical supplies are safe to reinstate using qualified personnel. Thermographic inspection should be considered when electrical installations are impacted.
- Check fire protection, including fixed and portable systems and alarm systems.
- Check safety of flammable liquids, gas storage etc.
- Check production equipment in preparation of restart.
- Once the flood water has begun to recede, if the weather and security permits, open all windows during the day – the air outside the building will be less moist than that inside, so it helps to dry the building out. Turn off the heating to save energy. By mid-afternoon, the air outside will be moist, so close your windows and put the heating back on.
- Do not dry damaged items by exposing them to extreme levels of heat as this could result in further damage or fire. If your central heating is working, turn it on at a low, constant temperature so that everything dries out gradually.
- When salvaging valuable paperwork, remove excess water and keep tightly together. Leave to dry naturally.
- If any refrigerated food that has been affected by flood water or become defrosted keep a list of the food items disposed of and, if possible, take photographs.
- Don’t immediately dispose of damaged furniture or fittings - they may have a salvage value or be repairable and will certainly need to be inspected. Take photos and store in a in a dry place until inspection or replacement has been agreed.
- Clear out any mud or silt that has collected in airbricks. This will aid ventilation under floorboards and prevent rot. If you have a wooden suspended floor, consider lifting the floorboards and ventilating underneath with a de-humidifier until properly dried*.
- Remove all soaked rubber-backed carpets and leave to dry outside*. Leave hessian-backed carpets down on the floor to dry, as they will shrink if lifted. Once they are dry, the carpets can be lifted to dry the areas underneath.
- Once the floodwater has receded, remember it may be contaminated. Be careful what you touch and look out for signs of pollution.
- Do not attempt to redecorate straight away - it may take months for a property to dry out properly. It is important to check with a decorator or other expert to ensure that the walls and other surfaces are fully dried out and, if necessary, treated to prevent mould.
* Ensure that any technical preparation or salvage work is carried out by qualified experts, and ensure health and safety protocols are followed to avoid risk to personnel. Refer to your insurance policy or check with your broker to ensure you understand your insurance cover.