Flooding is a common and widespread natural source of damage to properties in the UK. Sources of flooding include rivers, coasts, surface water, drainage, groundwater and sewers. Serious damage can be caused to an organisation’s property, contents, production and its ability to trade. It’s important to assess the risks to your property, be prepared, and plan for any adverse weather including storms or floods. You can put measures in place to help minimise the damage and speed up recovery time.
Did you know?
Over 5.2 million
properties in England are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion1
was around the average cost of
flooding to a business*2
the average cost of repairing a
flood damaged home*2
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Why and how to make a business flood plan
Hi there, my name is Ed Barsley and in this video we're going to be looking at why a business would need a flood plan and how you can go about creating one.
In the description alongside this video you'll find a link to a free flood plan template that we've created and throughout this piece we're going to be looking at the range of elements that it contains and discussing how each of these can help in preparing and adapting your business to be more flood resilient.
So first things first, why would your business need a flood plan?
Well it's important to bear in mind that floods can happen suddenly and occur any time of day night or year... and without a plan in place our responses can often be largely reactive... and as we'll see within this video there are many elements that we need to consider and a lot of really practical things that we can do to be prepared and that preparedness is so important because if we're not then as we can see here floods can have a devastating impact on a business. You know... that flood water can enter premises in a variety of ways, it can breach through doorways or even surcharge up through your drainage systems and flood you from within.
It can then damage walls and floors and internal finishes as well as any furniture and stock within the building and it could be that computers and server rooms are inundated and there's a risk of data loss as well as damage to important business documents.
And there can also be impacts beyond the building, with vehicles being picked up and carried by flood water and issues with safe access and egress for those in and around the premises.
The knock-on effect can be that business continuity is severely affected, not just in terms of the actual supply chain to and from your company... but there could be a loss of stock, potentially lengthy recovery times and you may well find actually that your staff have experienced significant stress from the event and it could affect their mental and physical health.
But, creating a flood plan and actually ensuring you have appropriate property flood resilience measures in place can make a huge difference and actually change the consequences that you and your business endure if or when that next flood were to occur. And really, there are so many benefits in having a flood plan in place.
It can help protect your existing customer supply chain. It can take away a lot of the different stresses and uncertainties from the customers suppliers staff and the wider management team.
But crucially though, it can help your business to continue to trade and get back up on your feet much more quickly with less stress and disruption after a flood.
So let's take a look at the floodplain template that we've created. Now, you'll see in the first few pages that there's an overview of really what the document contains and some reminders there of why we need to act, adapt and have a flood plan in place.
But from the outset, the most important element we need to find out is actually... What is your flood risk context?
Because it's vital that we actually understand what the sources of flooding could be, we need to identify the actual pathways and routes by which flood water could reach your premises and need to understand actually how frequent and severe those flood events may be. And it's important to remember that actually your business doesn't have to be anywhere near a river or the sea to be at risk of flooding.
Really the first port of call to find out what types of flooding could affect your business and how exposed it may be to flood risk is to check out your national flood maps. We've put a link to these in the flood plan document as well as alongside this video and you'll see that really for each country in the UK it has its own specific resource for this and to search the maps you typically use your postcode or the address of your business to actually find out the flood risk at that location.
But an important aspect to bear in mind is that not all types of flood risk will be shown on these maps, so do check which specific ones are shown and you'll find there's often more detailed and advanced flood risk information available if you enquire with your local authorities and relevant government agencies.
In England for example the Environment Agency have Product 4, which provides comprehensive information on river levels, extents, flow rates as well as actually historic flood outlines, a detailed flood risk assessment map and key flood datums that actually also include climate change allowances.
And that information all really helps us build up a detailed understanding of that particular flood risk context on your site and at your business. It can also be good practice to sign up for weather warnings via the MET Office's website and there are a range of platforms that can also help give regular updates on river gauge levels throughout the UK.
Monitoring these and actually having that live feedback is crucial and can help inform both how and when you act and adapt.
Next we're going to look at flood warnings and whilst flood maps and flood risk data sets can show us some of the past, existing and future flood risks in an area, flood warnings help keep us informed with updates on the severity of an event and actually when to prepare, when to take action and how to avoid danger to life.
And again, we've listed the links to these within the flood plan and alongside this video. You'd also want to either locate or assemble a flood kit and we'll talk in a moment actually about what that kit could contain. And as you can see here, there are three different levels of flood warning. Now, a flood alert informs us of when flooding is possible and lets us know that we should be prepared.
So at this time you'd check things like weather forecasts, your flood maps and potentially river levels and you'd also look to have a copy of the flood plan in print or digital format so that you have it to hand and that you're ready to actually enact it if or when you need to... and then you prepare to deploy any property flood resilience measures that you have for the premises.
The next level up is a flood warning and these are issued when flooding is expected and this lets us know that immediate action is required. So at this time you'd look to ensure that any staff or customers are safe, you might look to raise up any stock or electrical devices and relocate vulnerable items to areas of lower flood risk.
We'd also look to move vehicles to safe locations and begin the process of deploying any property flood resilience measures that you have for the business.
Lastly we have severe flood warnings. Now it's important to note that these are only issued when it's deemed that there is a significant risk to both the property and to life.
So at this time you'd look to switch off or manage any of the critical utilities on the premises.
For example, you might switch off the gas to the building and you'd prepare to undertake your evacuation plan... and we'll look in a moment actually at what that plan might contain.
But during this time you'd also obviously look to cooperate with any emergency services and keep monitoring those flood levels and the flood warnings and if someone is in immediate danger then you obviously need to call 999. So really those are the three different levels of flood warning.
And another way to actually stay informed of what flood warnings are in force for a given area or to actually report back flood conditions that you've seen is to register with or call Floodline at the number we've got shown here. Now on the next page in the flood plan you'll see that we've got a template where you can fill in key details.
Because this information could be essential in helping you to contact people before, during or after a flood event. It can be really important actually in those moments to have things like key reference numbers and the contact details for different service providers whether it's waste, power, water, gas... but also the details of your staff members and and other key stakeholders.
Because really assembling these at the last minute when there's potentially little time to act or adapt is just not advised. And so take a moment and actually fill these in and have them so that you are ready and you're prepared.
Now, the next page actually shows us the items that we might need to assemble within a flood kit... and as you can see this comprises of everything from important documents through to data backups and of course key details and that contact list. In terms of other items, it may actually be that you need some food or drink supplies ready and have a first aid kit to hand.
Communication will obviously also be important before, during and after a flood event and so... having either a phone or a two-way radio and a back-up power ready for that will be vitally important.
And as I said earlier, that flood could happen at any time of day, night or year so it might be that you pack a torch within the flood kit as well as warm and high visibility clothing and appropriate footwear.
Even that spare set of keys could be important as you might need to hand that set to emergency services or it could help avoid any delays or confusion in the event of evacuation. Now the grab bags and warnings help us get ready to react and prepared in the short term, but when it comes to actually how to make your business premises more flood resilient... it's important to follow the process that's set out in the Code of Practice for Property Flood Resilience.
We've put a link to this within the flood plan but also within the description alongside this episode. But if you'd like to find out more about it and a bit of an overview about what the code of practice is... we've made an episode on it that's available to check out on our channel just here.
Essentially its process is set up around six standards and stages that help us ensure that property flood resilience is really considered from end to end. So what we first want to do is actually understand the flood risk context and the property setup... so that any design options can be contextually appropriate and suit the people and the place.
It could actually be that flood resistance measures are used.
Such as flood doors or deployable flood barriers and these can actually help slow the rate at which flood water enters a building. But, be warned though that their suitability does depend on the property type and the flood risk context as well as the actual users requirements themselves.
But, it could be that in addition to... or instead of those resistance measures you look to make the property more flood recoverable, so that we actually limit the damage that flood water could cause if or when it enters the building.
And that recoverable approach could be having furniture that's easy to move, fold or stack... positioning stock, servers and valuable items at higher level and specifying materials for floors and walls that won't be unduly damaged by flood water and will be easy to dry out and decontaminate after an event.
Even having raised power sockets and wiring fed from the first floor down can be hugely beneficial and reduce the time it can take for reinstatement. But, it's also good to bear in mind that there are often interventions that can be made around the business itself to reduce flood risk.
It could for example be that you incorporate permeable paving or swales into and around your parking areas, it might be that you disconnect the property's downpipe and have it feed into a planter or a rain garden and... really what these can do is actually help to reduce the volume and rate at which our drainage networks are inundated and overwhelmed and reduce some of that loading on those systems during a period of heavy rainfall.
But, back to the code of practice process. Whichever measures you actually choose to have in place, they really are only as good as the manner in which they're constructed, commissioned, operated and maintained over time. When you get that warning it might be that you need to fit a barrier... and that routine should be one that's been practiced and it's something that's familiar for all of the relevant personnel.
Now on page 11 of the flood plan you'll see that we've created a checklist where you can list the various property flood resilience measures that you've got for the business and you can add notes as to where they're stored and how they're fitted. It's good practice to actually also put down the date of when this checklist was created and be sure to review it and update it if circumstances or equipment does change.
Lastly, let's look at evacuation and in the event of a flood we won't just be concerned with the staff but we'd obviously also want to ensure that any of our customers on the premises aren't at risk. In creating the evacuation plan, we really need to define where the safe refuge location will be, how to get there, as well as actually when you'd expect people to relocate to it.
It's good practice to have a map of these evacuation routes on display within the premises, but also bear in mind that actually because of certain conditions it may actually be that it's not possible to access the property or the safe refuge location. So there should be a plan b and an alternate site set out in which to congregate.
Undertaking the evacuation plan can involve several stages and the procedures involved with these should be listed out so that no one stage is ever overlooked... and defining the actual hierarchy of decision making can also really help to reduce the actual chance of miscommunication during those critical moments and help improve our actual clarity of thinking under pressure.
When it comes to the actual lead times for enacting your flood plan, it can be really useful to list this out as for some businesses they might only get minutes to act and adapt whilst others might have 12 hours of warning.
But really defining those time scales and what the sources of flooding can be is really helpful, particularly if the flood plan needs to be enacted by somebody who's new to the company or the area and... needs to be made familiar with the specific setup for your business.
So looking back at what we've covered and the crucial steps that we need to undertake in putting together and enacting our flood plan.
We first of all need to actually find out our flood risk context and that will really help inform both how and where to adapt.
We should also sign up for flood warnings and floodline so we can stay alert and informed should any conditions change.
We also need to complete that key details list so that we have the relevant information collated and to hand in both digital and print formats and we should create and rehearse an evacuation plan and be sure that actually our staff are familiar with all of the different practices and procedures that are set out within it.
And finally, with all of this we really want to work in a systematic way that follows the process set out in the Code of Practice for Property Flood Resilience, because as I said before... context is key with all of this and the way in which you adapt will depend on your specific setup and circumstances.
But really, whatever approach is used it's important to actually record what measures are in place, where they're stored and how they're fitted and maintained.
So thanks very much for listening, and if you know of a business that could be at risk of flooding please do share this video and the flood plan with them. Because as you've seen here there are so many things that we can actually do to significantly reduce the impacts that floods can have on a business and it can really help increase both our preparedness and awareness of the risks.
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