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Many businesses in the UK are at risk of flooding. By planning, preparing, and making your business more resistant and resilient, you can aim to reduce the impact of flooding to help with business continuity. From creating a flood plan to protecting your products, there are many resources available to help you plan and prepare for flooding to your business, and ease the recovery process that follows.

Business Flood Planning

Planning ahead for flooding will ensure that you can respond to the incident in the most efficient way. You can do this by creating a basic plan of action, signing up multiple people to receive flood alerts and warnings and considering your insurance options.


 

Business Flood Plans

It is always a good idea to create a flood plan if your business is situated in a flood risk area, even if it has never been flooded before. It ensures that in the case of receiving a flood alert or warning you are prepared to take action, can deploy any temporary resistance measures efficiently, and are best prepared to protect the property and contents from the impacts of flooding. This will minimise financial losses and help with business continuity.

The information on this page explains how to create your business plan. Click here to download the business flood planning guide which contains all of this information.

You can download a printable version of a business flood plan here. The document contains a pre-populated flood plan, and a blank flood plan which you can complete yourself or with other staff members and keep in a suitable, easy-to-see place that all staff members are aware of.

     

 

Businesses of all sizes should consider having a flood plan and for larger businesses with multiple sites the flood risk should be considered on a site-by-site basis. This may be done centrally by the head office, however it is important that site managers understand what plans are in place for their premises and ensure site specific changes are made to best protect the property and staff.

There is a Business Resilience Healthcheck available here which you can complete for your business and receive a report outlining options that you can consider as a starting point for creating a business resilience plan.

The Environment Agency’s ‘Would your business stay afloat?’ document also offers help when preparing your business for possible flooding, suggesting some actions that you can take and providing a simple flood plan template that you can use.


 

Steps to Completing Your Business Flood Plan

1. Create a flood plan checklist

Create a checklist to make sure you take all the measures you can to plan and prepare for potential flooding in the future. You can tailor the checklist to suit the specific needs of your business, and it can include points such as:

 

2. Gather a contact list

Taking time to gather together some important contacts could be a massive help as it means you will easily be able to find the telephone numbers of emergency contacts you may need to talk to if flooding occurs. Here are some suggested contacts:

  • Ring the Environment Agency’s Floodline (0345 988 1188) if you are unsure of the immediate risk to yourself or require flooding advice. The Environment Agency incident hotline (0800 80 70 60) should be used to report a flood.
  • Gas, electricity, water and telephone suppliers will help you to locate and turn off these supplies.
  • Local radio stations will be up to date with the latest news and weather conditions.
  • List of staff contact details, with clear indication of those who are to be involved in the flood plan, have been trained in putting the flood plan in to action and do not live in a flood risk area.
  • Ringing your insurance company when flooding has occurred and you have decided to make a claim is important as they will tell you what to do to ensure your claim remains valid.
  • Landlord of the business premises if you do not own it.

 

3. Consider documents, equipment and property flood resilience products 

Identify any important documents, products or equipment that need to be protected and note their locations so you can quickly access them. It is essential that a business identifies the data and equipment that is key to business continuity, and either stores these items in a safe area at all times or identifies on the flood plan where they should be moved to as a priority. You should think about:

  • Paper files – make a copy of important documentation and store in a safe location.
  • Electronic files and databases – all important documents and data should be regularly backed up on iCloud, Google Drive or another online storage system, or backed up on an external hard drive and stored out of the flood risk area.
  • Stock, equipment and electrical items – raise items above ground level or to an upper level of the building.
  • Hazardous materials – if stored in a flood risk area containers must be protected e.g. moved, protected by barriers, or secured so they can’t float away.
  • Vehicles – move to a safer location or higher ground, this may be off site.

If you have any temporary property flood resilience that needs putting in place if flooding is expected, make sure that you make a note of where it is stored and how to install it. This will help you to find it quickly and should allow you to install it as easily as possible.

 

4. Develop a step-by-step action plan

As part of your flood plan document it is a good idea to set out actions to take when flood alerts and warnings are received.

Firstly, make sure you are signed up for free flood alerts and warnings from the Environment Agency which can be received by call, text or email by more than one individual at the business. It is important to understand what the different warnings mean so you can use them as a trigger to put your plan into place at the right time. Discover alternative flood warnings here. Out of office contact numbers and contact details for additional staff members who are local and able to attend if a warning is received, should also be signed up to receive flood alerts and warnings.

Secondly, decide what actions you will take at each flood warning stage. Some ideas are suggested below:

‘Flood Alert’ – Flooding to low lying land and roads is possible. Stay vigilant and make early preparations for a potential flood.

  • Monitor the situation and check the forecast.
  • Ensure you have access to the flood plan, property flood resilience products and flood kit.
  • Ensure that staff are aware that a flood alert is in place and the actions to take if the situation develops.

‘Flood Warning’ – Flooding is expected. Immediate action is required to protect yourself and your property.

  • Move stock and equipment upstairs or to safety.
  • Deploy temporary flood resistance products – note where they are stored and how to install them.
  • Move all vehicles and staff cars out of the flood risk area if possible.
  • If feasible, evacuate staff who are not needed to put the flood plan in place prior to a severe flood warning.

‘Severe Flood Warning’ – Severe flooding is expected. Significant risk to life and property. Prepare to evacuate and cooperate with emergency services.

  • Upon receiving a severe flood warning you will need to evacuate yourself and all staff from the premises and cooperate with advice from the emergency services.
  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if possible and safe to do so before you evacuate.

A plan of what to do if you need to evacuate should be included in your flood plan. You should follow local news or contact your local council to find the nearest emergency assistance centre.

 

For more ideas on what you can add to your step-by-step plan of action, download our Business Flood Planning Guide.

 

It is good practice to fully test your flood plan once finished. Run a ‘flood drill’ with staff so they know what to do and what to expect if you ever have to put your plan into place, and run training if necessary.

It is important that your flood plan is reviewed regularly to ensure that contact details are up to date. You should create a maintenance schedule to check that any property flood resilience still function correctly, and practice installing it periodically.


 

Protecting Your Business

Preparing for future flooding will enable you to be well equipped to deal with the impacts of a flood, and allow you to be protected from some of the disruption caused by floodwater. Having property flood resilience and resistance measures will help you to be more prepared.

Visit our Household page ‘Prepare’ section for information on:
  • Flood Kits
  • Priority Services
  • Protecting Your Property
    • Resistance and resilience
    • Sustainable drainage systems
    • Surveys
    • Products
    • Sandbags
    • Rented properties
    • Protecting traditional buildings

Click here to visit the Household page

Considerations specific to business owners:
  • IT equipment should be placed in suitable locations. Moving IT upstairs, or placing it on raised desks or shelves will reduce the risk of floodwater reaching it.
  • Racking for equipment and stock. If you store equipment and stock on the premises, ensure that it is kept safe from flood water by installing racking to keep it off the ground.
  • Raw materials and finished products. If you keep a stock of raw materials and/or finished products, you may want to consider how much is stored and how long for. Reducing the amount of stock stored on the premises will reduce the chance of it getting damaged should a flood occur.

 

You can visit the Sesame Flood Resilient Business website for SMEs to find more information and guidance on flooding for small businesses.

CLASP has developed some ‘Weathering the Storm’ self-help guides for SMEs focused on areas in the North West, which look into the impacts of climate change on businesses and how businesses can increase their resilience to the changes. Click to download these resources for: Cumbria, Liverpool, Greater Manchester. You can also browse CLASP’s resource library here.

The Business Emergency Resilience Group (BERG) campaign from Business in the Community offers information on various ways for businesses to become more resilient, including for flooding.

When making your business more resilient to flooding, check that you have covered everything on our property flood resilience checklist here, to ensure you are as prepared as possible for a future flood event.