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How to prepare your business for extreme weather

Is your business prepared for more extreme weather?

Events over recent years have left little room for doubt that the climate is changing, extreme weather events at home and abroad are bringing havoc to homes and businesses.1 In fact, climate data now tells us that extreme weather is becoming the norm in the UK, it’s vital your business is prepared and protected.1

Hurricanes, floods and fires

Over the last two years, images of devastating storms, flooding and wildfires across the globe have featured heavily on the news. In the first few weeks of 2021, record snowfall brought Madrid to a standstill, causing £1.2bn worth of damage. While extreme cold in Texas left 3.5m homes and businesses without power.2

Meanwhile, West Germany was engulfed by floods, Greece was ravaged by wildfires, and a ‘heat dome’ over the Pacific Northwest of the US brought extreme high temperatures and more wildfires than in previous years.2

Closer to home, in the UK a series of storms damaged property, flooded thousands of homes and businesses and caused power cuts. In 2021, Storm Christoph brought heavy, and at times record breaking rain to parts of the UK3, Storm Arwen brought high winds, flooding and power cuts4, and Storm Barra prompted more than 40 flood alerts.5 Even in July 2021, storms brought severe flooding to the east of England6 and London.7

Wild weather – the UK gets it all. Why?

The UK’s climate is influenced by systems originating from the Atlantic and the European landmass. This combination results in the wet and unpredictable weather conditions our shores are known for.

When is flood season?

The UK doesn’t have a flood season as such. The Environment Agency advises that floods can happen at any time, indeed, July 2021 saw the highest ever number of flood related insurance claims from commercial properties, doubling the previous record.8

However, autumn and winter remain the seasons when flood risk is generally at its highest. What’s more, weather forecasters have predicted higher than average rainfall for the UK this winter.9

Who’s at risk from flooding?

According to the Environment Agency, as many as 5.2m homes and businesses across the UK are at risk from flooding10, while some estimates suggest that as many as 30% of all commercial properties could be at risk.11

The impact of flooding on businesses can be high. The average cost of flood damage stands at around £82,000. While some businesses can lose up to 50 working days when they experience flooding – in turn leading to a loss of custom and reputational damage.8

Take steps to manage your flood risk

It’s critical you’re well prepared for all weather scenarios. As an employer, you have a legal duty to ensure the workplace remains safe. That means it’s important to have a business continuity plan to guarantee arrangements are in place should your business be disrupted. The plan should be based on work environment risk assessments and be designed to ensure businesses can cope with the challenges caused by extreme weather conditions.

Flood risk management - knowledge, preparation and communication

Some floods cannot be completely avoided, but there are preventive measures you can take to minimise damage to your business if the worst should happen:

  • Sign up for alerts from the Environment Agency, the National Resources Wales or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to receive timely flood warning messages.
  • Conduct a thorough risk assessment of the premises to identify potential at-risk areas. For any risks identified, devise and put in place an appropriate solution.
  • Have non-return valves installed on drains as well as inlet and outlet water pipes.
  • Develop a flood contingency plan with your suppliers and clients.
  • While your plan will be unique to your business, we recommend all business flood plans should at least include the following:

    - A list of important contact information, including Floodline (0345 988 1188) and any flood warning systems, building services, suppliers and evacuation contacts.

    - A map showing locations of supplies, protective materials and shut-off points.

    - An outline of basic strategies for protecting employees, property, ensuring health and safety, minimising business disruptions and facilitating recovery.

    - Procedural checklists for staff to use during a flood. Protecting them and your business with expert advice.

Protect your business with expert advice

As tempting as it might be to think ‘that’ll never happen to us’, investing in business interruption insurance and a business continuity plan can help your business recover from a flood event.

An often-invaluable cover, business interruption insurance safeguards your business by covering ongoing expenses and lost profit while the permanent business location is being repaired. Business interruption insurance can also help you to cover fixed ongoing costs such as payroll as well as issues such as the increased cost of working during periods of disruption and recovery.

FloodFlash also uses data modelling and tech to bring parametric insurance to businesses. The result is fast, easy and flexible cover that pays claims within days of a flood.

For further information, read more about business interruption insurance, FloodFlash or find a local expert for support and advice.

 

Sources:
1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/29/extreme-weather-will-be-the-norm-and-uk-is-not-prepared-report-warns
2. https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/environment/953574/worlds-most-extreme-weather-events-2021
3. https://floodlist.com/europe/united-kingdom/storm-christoph-floods-england-wales-january-2021
4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-59435965
5. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/12/07/storm-barra-uk-weather-flood-rain-snow-power-latest-updates/
6. https://floodlist.com/europe/united-kingdom/flash-floods-peterborough-july-2021
7. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/26/flash-floods-will-be-more-common-as-climate-crisis-worsens-say-scientists-london-floods
8. https://www.fmj.co.uk/a-drain-on-uk-businesses-the-true-cost-of-flooding-and-how-to-prepare/
9. https://www.theweatheroutlook.com/forecast/uk-seasonal-weather-forecast
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flood-and-coastal-risk-management-national-report/flood-and-coastal-erosion-risk-management-report-1-april-2019-to-31-march-2020
https://www.landlordzone.co.uk/news/thirty-percent-of-uk-commercial-premises-at-risk-of-flooding/

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