Flooding is the most common and widespread natural disaster in the UK. And as our climate changes we can expect to see more extreme weather – and ever more frequent incidences of major flooding over an increasingly larger area of this country. It is thought that flooding accounts for almost 10% of major business disruptions with approximately 185k businesses at risk across England and Wales.
On average your business is more likely to be destroyed by flood than burn down by fire, the cost of fire damage being 4 times less than flood damage! Burglary costs are even less – average losses are a fraction of those caused by flood damage which can go into the thousands (typical av. £1k vs £28k).
During the Somerset floods crisis last year, it is estimated an average of £17,352 per business was lost to flood damage. Losses of this sort can seriously impact on the growth of businesses extending beyond property damage. Flooding also has a very real impact on a business’ ability to trade.
Business growth relies on a consistent stream of income and profits, helping to finance taking on more staff, improving facilities, research and development, and expanding premises. But businesses recuperating from flood damage will find themselves lacking the disposable income necessary to make these business improvements.
Some pre-planning could significantly reduce financial losses – in helping to limit damage to property, stock and equipment, minimise business disruption, and maintain capacity. So you retain customers and your professional credibility!
So why don’t more business owners protect against flooding?
By taking action to prepare in advance for flooding, most businesses can save between 20 and 90 per cent on the cost of lost stock and movable equipment, as well as some of the trouble and stress that goes with such an event.
In addition to your H&S and Business Continuity plans, having a specific flood plan will help you identify what is needed to ensure the safety of your staff and premises and enable you to respond quickly, even when you’ve received little warning of impending flood.
As with any other risk to your business, when developing your Flood Plan, consider what is vital to your business and how best to protect it. A few simple steps can make so much difference (e.g. storing valuable items higher up) in helping reduce damage if you are affected by flood. Let everyone know about the plan and keep it in an accessible place – somewhere where it can be grabbed at a moment’s notice.
Since traditional flood protection can be costly (average costs reaching £4.5k per business) many business owners may be reluctant to invest in flood defences; but flood defences have protected more than 1.3 million properties from flooding since 2013 alone.
Many areas offer funding to help with the costs of flood protection. Under the Communities and Business Recovery Scheme, local authorities can provide over £2,500 of funding for every business affected.
For how to apply – contact your local authority about its own assistance scheme.
Recovering your business (safely) after flooding
Following widespread severe flooding at the end of 2015 / early 2016 the HSE has issued guidance for businesses on how to safely get their business up and running again, as the waters recede.
They answer such questions as:
- How can I minimise the risks from floodwater?
- How can I dry my premises safely?
- What about the electrical safety of the building and any equipment?
- How can I clean up my premises?
- What hazards do I need to be aware of when cleaning my premises?
Further help is also available on Gov.uk in Winter 2015 floods