Preparing your business for flooding: Prevention, planning and proactive defence against floods

Climate change has begun to impact our weather significantly and intense weather has become more common than we ever imagined. Surface water and river flooding are happening more often in the UK and it’s something business owners simply can’t ignore.

Over 300,000 UK business premises are at risk of flooding, so it simply can’t be ignored, as flooding is also the most likely hazard to cause damage and disruption to your property. For small business owners, flooding can be particularly devastating and recovery very slow, if possible, at all. While we don’t want to cause alarm, preparing your properties to be ready in the event of a flood is good business practice and could be the difference between business recovery and failure if the worst does happen.

Let’s take a look at flood prevention methods and how to plan for the worst-case scenario.

Practical measures for flood prevention

Protecting your business from the impact of flooding means being proactive. You can install practical equipment including removable barriers which seal doors and windows, as well as air bricks, effective toilets and drains. You can also install non-return valves on your pipes which make sure flood water can only flow away from the building.

Raising electrical sockets, control circuits and panels above the predicted waterline is also recommended if you live in an area known for flooding. Builders can also incorporate flood-resistant materials as part of the building’s construction which can help to reduce costs after a flood has happened.

Leak prevention and management

Acting quickly when you find a leak on your premises is essential to avoid unnecessary flooding and damage. Even a small leak could become an expensive problem if it isn’t dealt with quickly, and unnecessary costs is something we all want to avoid.

Don’t forget your insurance

Preventing the worst impacts of flooding also means making sure you’ve the right insurance in place. Storm cover insurance and business interruption insurance should be key features of your policy, so make sure you check it fully and upgrade if necessary.

Planning for the unexpected

There’s only so much anyone can do if a flood hits, but the better your planning, the more you can minimise its impact. The first step to take is to see if your business is at risk and sign up for flood warnings through The Environment Agency. This is a 24-hour, free, automated service that phones you to warn when a flood is likely in your postcode area.

If you’re signed up to our online portal, My Account, you’ll also see notifications of any weather warnings from your local wholesaler.

Preparing your business for a flood will help in many ways, it’ll help to:

  • Limit damage to your property, stock and equipment
  • Reduce financial losses
  • Protect your staff and customers
  • Minimise business disruption
  • Help you get insurance in the future

The key element of your flood preparation should be drawing up your flood plan.

Your flood plan should include information such as your insurance policy number and a paper copy, staff details including emergency contacts, a staff evacuation plan, floor plan of the building and a first aid kit. There may be additional information you need such as customer files, but this will depend on your business.

The plan should outline the exact steps to take in the event of a flood and should be communicated to all staff and training given if necessary. Larger businesses may appoint dedicated flood wardens to be in charge of emergency situations to make sure everyone is following the plan properly and keeping themselves safe.

A flood survival kit is also a good idea and doesn’t take long to put together, it should include:

  • Watertight containers to hold the important documents you need
  • A reliable torch, batteries and a whistle for emergency situations
  • Vacuum packed blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water
  • Emergency cash

Worrying about the risk of flood shouldn’t overwhelm your business, however, being organised and planning for difficult scenarios means you’re better placed to keep risks at bay and minimise any damage that occurs.