Know your flood risk

Over 300,000 commercial properties across the UK are estimated to be at risk of flooding. What’s more, we are experiencing more and more extreme weather, and it’s likely that this number will increase over the coming years, with many businesses experiencing the devastation that flooding can cause for the first time ever. The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment states that the annual bill for flood damage across the country is around £1.3bn. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. It is possible to put a flood plan in place to protect your business premises. Many businesses can negate the majority of the cost of flooding by having a plan in place to move or protect stock and equipment.

Government guidance and legislation

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has extensive guidelines in place regarding flood risk management and surface water management. It is the responsibility of the government to help businesses and individuals prevent and manage flooding, but as a business owner, you should be aware of the role you can play in protecting your business against flooding, and how to safely deal with any flooding that does occur, as well as the inevitable clean-up process. Flood water can be very dangerous, and your top priority is to make sure that your employees remain safe if there is a threat of flooding, during an actual flood, and throughout the clean-up process. Flood Guidance UK has lots of information on how to proceed if your premises have been flooded.

Types of flooding

Knowing which type of flooding your business may be exposed to can help with preparation and prevention.

• Surface water flooding is usually the result of heavy rainfall that local drainage capacity cannot cope with.

• Coastal and river flooding is simply what is sounds like – it happens when severe weather hits coastal regions or areas close to a river or surrounded by several rivers.

• Groundwater flooding generally occurs in low-lying areas with springs and seasonal streams that swell with extreme levels of rain. This can cause long-term flooding over a relatively large area.

• Sewer flooding is when sewage escapes from its pipes, usually through a drain or manhole. It is, understandably, highly unpleasant and potentially hazardous to public health.

Is your business at risk of flooding?

Any business could potentially be affected by a flood, but some are, of course, in naturally high-risk areas. In England, you can check for current flood warnings, see risks of flooding predicted in the next five days, and ascertain the long-term risk of flooding in your area at the government website. You’ll also be able to sign up there for alerts of local flood warnings, and request the flooding history of a property you occupy, or any property you’re thinking of occupying. There are similar services available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Creating a flood plan

Having a flood plan in place can help you prepare for a flood, keep your staff safe, and reduce potential flood damage. A well-thought-out plan means that you know what steps to take in the (sometimes highly unpredictable) event of a flood that impacts your business premises. This may involve storing valuable stock and business items as high as possible (above the waterline expected in mild to moderate flooding), having an evacuation plan for staff if a flash flood occurs, and preventing flood water from entering your premises by installing permanent or removable barriers.

You may also want to raise electrical sockets and wiring where viable, install equipment and machinery that could suffer water damage on plinths, and use flood-proof materials for floors and lower walls. Items that you might need in the event of a minor flood include a Hydrosack, sucker pump or flood screen roll. Don’t forget to put a flood evacuation plan in place and ensure that staff are briefed on it. Appropriate warning signs may also be a worthwhile investment.

Where do I buy flood defence products?

Here at Seton, we have a range of flood defence products that you can use to pre

vent and minimise flood damage to your premises, and to aid clean-up if you do suffer water damage as the result of a flood. When you have carried out a flood risk assessment and put a flood plan in place, you will have a fairly clear idea of what sort of equipment you need. However, these are a few of our top flood defence products:

• Flood Avert – Boom Bag Tube – Create instant flood barriers with this versatile and lightweight alternative to traditional sand bags. They are affordable, portable, and can soak up 20 litres of water in just three minutes. One kit is equivalent to nine sand bags.

• Hydrosack Flood Prevention – The unique design absorbs water but does not release it, even when punctured. Before use, this product weighs just one kilo, and it comes with carrying handles, so it is easy to position quickly in the event of sudden, unpredicted flooding.

• JS-150 Heavy Duty Drainage Pump – This free-standing, heavy-duty, vortex impeller pump can deal with viscous liquids, raw sewage, mud and wood chips. It comes with an optional float switch and a 10-metre power cable.

Avoiding the devastating and expensive consequences of a major flood is often possible with the right alerts set up, a good flood plan in place, and the appropriate flood defence products and strategies. If you’d like to chat to our expert team about the products you need to protect your business premises in the event of flooding, please do get in touch.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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