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Preparing your business for extreme weather

Global warming is having huge effects on our day-to-day lives. Flooding, storms, tornados and forest fires are a growing reality for many countries previously unaffected by extreme weather. For the UK, these changes are just as relevant.

Despite international efforts to limit global warming to 2.0°C, latest projections by the United Nations show this goal is slipping out of reach.1

The reality of extreme weather could cause havoc for your business in the next decade. Here’s everything you need to know about the risks of severe weather, and how to start preparing for the future.

How our environment is changing

Global warming has resulted in noticeable changes to our seasons. Last year the UK faced record-breaking temperatures, with the highest winter and summer temperatures ever recorded.2 Our winters are wetter and warmer, with temperatures soaring above 20°C and heavy rainfall leading to wide-spread flooding and summer temperatures continue to peak.3

Summer 2018 was one of the hottest on record since 1976, with temperatures reaching up to 35.3°C in some areas.4

These are the extreme weather risks most likely to affect the UK:

Storms and hurricanes

Britain’s climate is highly affected by Atlantic and European weather systems. It’s this exposure that causes such unpredictable conditions on our shores.

Met Office climate models have predicted how trends in storms are likely to change in line with global warming. Current research suggests an overall reduction in the number of storms. However, the intensity of winds is expected to increase, resulting in more lasting damage to people and property.5

Earlier this year, Storm Brendan swept across the western half of the UK, causing widespread travel disruption with winds exceeding 80mph. At the height of the storm, thousands of properties across Northern Ireland and Wales were left without power, while flights to Gatwick Airport were diverted away from the winds.6

Floods

The Environment Agency advises that floods can happen at any time. Last year, new research published by the Met Office predicted a 1 in 3 chance of a new monthly rainfall record in at least one region every winter.7

Flooding is now listed as one of UK’s major threats.8

In November last year, much of the UK was struck by serious river and surface water flooding. Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, along with other parts of North and Central England were among the worst affected, with hundreds forced to evacuate their homes.9

Mike Owen, CEO for the South of England at Marsh Commercial, has provided advice on how businesses can respond to the devastating effects of the recent Storm Dennis:

“Businesses impacted by the flooding caused by Storm Dennis should contact their insurance broker as soon as possible. They can help you to understand what level of cover you currently have and advise on the due process for making a claim, if necessary. Your insurance documentation should contain 24-hour emergency contact details.

You will need to show that you have tried to lessen the impact to your belongings as much as possible, so make sure you move what you can to higher ground and use sandbags or flood pumps if you are able to access them.

To ensure you have sufficient proof of the damage caused, remember to take lots of photographs or videos and collect any other evidence in support.

After a flood event, further provisions may be required to ensure you have sufficient cover for your business, so make sure you review your existing policy with your broker.”

Extreme weather and business

Wetter winters and an increased risk of storms could cause untold disruption to your business. According to The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 300,000 commercial properties are at risk of flooding.10

As a business owner, it’s essential you prepare for the risk of extreme weather. Not only can extreme weather cause damage to your business premises, it could also lead to a loss of revenue from business interruption, resulting in a financial deficit long after the storm has passed.

A good business continuity plan is essential to ensure you’re prepared for disruption caused by extreme weather.

Preparing for extreme weather

The impact of floods and storms cannot be completely avoided. However, there are a number of measures you can take to help minimise the long-term damage:

  • Sign up for weather alerts from the Environment Agency, the National Resources Wales or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Carry out a risk assessment to identify potential at-risk areas to your premises and put preventative measures in place
  • Create an emergency weather plan, so your employees know what to do when a storm hits
  • Install non-return valves on drains along with inlet and outlet water pipes to minimise flood risk
  • Provide flood safety training for your staff as well as providing them with contact details for emergency services such as Floodline (0845 988 1188)
  • Work with your insurer to create a comprehensive business interruption plan so you suffer as little financial loss as possible.

Protecting your business with expert advice

It’s easy to think these disasters will never affect you. But if they do, then having business interruption insurance and a business continuity plan can prove invaluable.

This type of cover protects your business by compensating any lost revenue if your business is unable to operate as normal. This includes covering things like payroll or even helping with alternative premises while your business location is being repaired.

Extreme weather is becoming a more frequent reality, but by having a plan in place, you can prepare should the worst happen.

 

Sources:


1 https://www.theguardian.com/cities/ng-interactive/2017/nov/03/three-degree-world-cities-drowned-global-warming
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50976909
3 http://theconversation.com/climate-change-means-more-extreme-weather-heres-what-the-uk-can-expect-if-emissions-keep-increasing-112745
4 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45399134
5 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/15/uk-faces-sharp-rise-destructive-wind-storms-global-warming
6 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51090037
7 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/climate-change-means-more-frequent-flooding-warns-environment-agency
8 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-risk-register-of-civil-emergencies-2017-edition
9 http://floodlist.com/europe/united-kingdom/floods-yorkshire-nottinghamshire-derbyshire-november-2019
10 https://www.ricsfirms.com/residential/maintenance/exterior/rics-consumer-guide-flooding/

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