Flood damage can be extensive and expensive. It is not always covered by home insurance policies so it is advisable for homes and businesses to take some simple but effective precautions to minimise the risk to their premises and keep costs to a minimum.
Businesses must also have an effective plan to remain operational if disaster strikes, otherwise outgoing costs will sky rocket and incoming payments will cease. In an average year, DEFRA and the Environment Agency (EA) calculate that the cost incurred per flooded English business ranges from £75,000 to £112,000.
Here are some Top Tips to help ensure minimal distress in case of flooding in your property.
1. Know your situation – If you don’t know whether or not you are at risk of flooding, find out. People always say, “I never thought this type of thing would happen to me”. Investigate the risk, if there is a chance it could happen to you, be prepared for it. The Environment Agency monitors the UK for flood risk and issues warnings to areas in danger of flooding. Register with the EA Floodline to receive warnings of flood.
2. Plan – If you don’t have physical flood protection, you may need to evacuate and this will need to be safely monitored and organised. Businesses could modify an existing fire exit strategy. Ensure you have a flood emergency response plan and an emergency response team. Appoint a Flood Warden to show staff where the plan is kept along with a list of key contact numbers. Consider preparing a flood kit that can be stored where staff members can easily get to it if the property is flooded.
3. It is a wise idea for businesses to have a continuity plan to facilitate continued operational effectiveness. Modern technology makes it easy to have a portable company. You can relocate to another property (perhaps a room in the business owner’s home), or at least have a scaled-down operation functioning for the duration of the flood. Homeowners can modify these guidelines to make sure they are able to effectively look after their families if they find themselves caught in floods.
4. Have a plan of action in case of flooding: have sandbags or a flood barrier to help keep the water out, know who is in charge of doors, windows, drains and air vents, who will be responsible for tracking the status of the flood, have an exit strategy, and a list of contacts where you could stay in a worst-case scenario, as well as your local support telephone numbers. Also keep a family flood kit, which contains a few essentials, particularly for any children, and make sure you grab your laptop and mobile phone since these could prove essential for learning more about the extreme weather conditions and staying in touch with people who could help. For both businesses and homes, it is vital to ensure that someone is appointed to turn off all the gas and electricity.
5. Are you protected? – Check insurance policies to see if you are covered for flood damage. Only a small percentage of people in high flood risk areas know if their insurance covers water damage. If you can keep the water out, this is better than fixing the damage. Look at simple preventative steps you can take such as portable flood barriers.
Reducing Flood Damage
1. Switch Off and Relocate – Relocate high-value items, critical records and electronic equipment to upper floors. If it is safe to do so, move essential vehicles to higher ground. Disconnect all electrical appliances and shut off the gas supply to reduce the risk of fire.
2. Hold Back Hazardous Water – Flood waters are often contaminated with biohazards (sewage, medical waste, animal waste and carcasses) or other hazardous materials (fuels, asbestos, farm chemicals, etc.). Flood-damaged buildings may also have damp areas where moulds, mildews, and other organisms thrive. Close hand-operated valves on drain piping to prevent backflow through floor drains or plumbing fixtures. Check roof, floor or yard drains are clear.
3. Document Any Damage – Take pictures of the damage, both to the property and its contents for insurance claims. Notify insurers of the damage and schedule restorative works.