The effects of flooding can be absolutely devastating for businesses. According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), more than 300,000 business premises in the UK are at risk of flooding, with the overall cost of the floods which came as a result of Storm Desmond in 2015 totalled more than £5billion. So what are the measures which businesses can take to protect their premises from the destruction which flooding can bring.

1. Carry out a Flood Mitigation Survey

By carrying out a flood mitigation survey, you gain the best possible insight into how ‘at risk’ your property is of being flooded, which may impact the value of your property. The type of flood risk and level of risk will vary for each property, and these assessment look at how much damage could be caused and make recommendations as to whether any measures could be taken to reduce the risk. The recommendations can then be used to get flood insurance and improve the value of the property. The recommendations will include whether flood barriers or flood doors are suitable, and whether additional drainage measurse are required.

2. Sign up to the Environment Agency’s Flood Warning Service

It’s a quick and simple process to sign up for flood warnings through Gov.uk. All you need is the address you’re registering, a phone number you can be contacted on at all times, and an email address.

3. Ensure you have a business flood plan

A Business Flood Plan usually includes steps you will take in the event of a flood or flood warning, and in which order you will take them in. Maintenance and facilities, HR and finance are all elements to consider in your business flood plan, and the document should be able to be accessed by key members of staff such as Directors and Heads of Department.

4. Have the relevant Insurance in place

If your business is at risk of flooding, you’ll need insurance, so if the worst does happen, you’re not left out of pocket. However due to the location of your property it may be that you are unable to secure flood protection insurance, which was exactly the case when we moved to our current site.  However, we asked our insurers if we installed our products, whether they would insure us.  Fortunately, they agreed to use us as a test case, and we secured cover with an excess of just £300.

5. Reduce potential damage

Reducing potential damage to your property and assets can take many forms, from installing physical flood barriers to doing simple tasks such as moving stock or other assets higher, out of reach of flood water. Another alternative is to use sandless sandbags, such as Osmo Flood Barrier or FloodSax.

6. Install physical defences

This heavily relates to the previous tip but installing physical defences will be the most effective solution in protecting your premises against flooding. These defences don’t have to be an eyesore – we have worked with a number of businesses including a major retailer to ensure that their site was protected yet was still presentable to customers. Where possible, passive flood defences e.g. steel flood doors or self closing flood barrier, should be installed as they require no human intervention to deploy in a flood event.

7. Make sure all employees have flood training

This will likely form part of your Business Flood Plan, but ensuring all staff know what to do when a flood risk warning has been received, or in the event of a flood happening, is absolutely vital to ensuring minimum disruption to your business. If flood barriers are to be installed, make sure all employees know where to access the flood barriers and how to install them.

This will likely form part of your Business Flood Plan, but ensuring all staff know what to do when a flood risk warning has been received, or in the event of a flood happening, is absolutely vital to ensuring minimum disruption to your business. If flood barriers are to be installed, make sure all employees know where to access the barriers and how to install them.

8. Install sump pumps
Sump pumps act as a secondary line of defence to regulate water within a building. They can be used in conjunction with other flood mitigation products e.g. barriers to keep a low water level within the building during a flood event, which reduces the overall damage to the building.

9. Check nearby drains and install non return valves
If drains near your business regularly get blocked up, this can increase the risk of flooding to your business and you should contact your local council. It would also be advisable to install non return valves to prevent sewage from entering your building in a flood event.

10. Identify key assets within the property to protect
Certain machinery or assets are more valuable than others, therefore it may be best to isolate key assets and install flood mitigation products around them rather than the whole site or building. For example, lift shafts or server rooms or chemical waste rooms. This is the most cost effective way as you identify the key assets for your business and then invest to protect them.