With Storm Desmond hitting the headlines over recent weeks, the British weather never ceases to amaze with its unpredictability and although it’s impossible to accurately forecast, when winter conditions and heavy rain arrives, it nearly always seems as though the UK could be better prepared.
With approximately 185,000 commercial properties at risk of flooding across England and Wales (reports the Environment Agency) businesses need to ensure they are not only aware of their flood risk, but how they can be better prepared in the event of a flood.
So is your business at risk? It is a matter of fact that all businesses are at potential risk of flooding, even those not located near a river or the sea. You could be affected by ground water, rain water running off hillsides, burst water mains, sewer overflows, or simply a sudden increase in rainfall.
The Pitt Review notes that climate change is producing more extreme weather patterns and more intense storm events. Over the next 25 years it is likely that more properties will be hit by surface water (pluvial) flooding than by ‘traditional’ river (fluvial) flooding, and most of these will be affected for the first time. The average losses from a flood are £28,000, compared to just over £1,000 for a burglary. It is likely you have an alarm fitted to protect your office against theft. Do you have similar solutions to prevent it from flooding? Does your business have a flood plan in place? How would you manage a clean-up if you were flooded?
It’s reported that most businesses can save up to 90% on the cost of lost stock and moveable equipment by taking preparatory action in advance for flooding. Although it’s impossible to completely flood-proof a property, there are lots of things that can be done to help prevent flood damage and make drying-out and cleaning up much quicker and easier.
In buildings that are at risk of flooding, for fixed items and furniture, it’s a good idea to use water resistant materials such as stainless steel or plastic. It also makes sense to raise electrical sockets and fuse boxes and store valuable items on high-mounted shelves or raised plinths.
Many businesses are also investing in flood protection products as a precaution against the severe disruption that water damage can do. We’ve recently seen enquiries soar for all types of weather related equipment from sandbags and flood barriers through to water pumps and dehumidifiers. In some cases advanced preparation and specialist equipment can also reduce regulatory liability and make it easier to obtain insurance.
New innovations are coming out all the time to help flood proof buildings. A particularly impressive product that we’ve recently started selling, is a ‘sandless sandbag’ that offers highly effective protection against floods and leaking water. Each unit is compact and lightweight, at just 200g each, but when they are submerged in water, they become as heavy and secure as a traditional sandbag. The product can be used to stop and divert water as well as soaking up leaks and it has a long shelf-life so it’s proving to be extremely popular.
So many businesses believe they will not be affected, but with several service providers estimating that flooding now accounts for nearly 10% of major business disruptions, and with the average losses from a flood equating to £28,000. Can you afford not to be prepared for our increasingly unpredictable British weather?
For more advice and guidance on safeguarding your business or to sign up for flood warnings and alerts via telephone, mail or SMS text message from the Environment Agency visit https://www.gov.uk/browse/environment-countryside/flooding-extreme-weather.