Flooding is the excessive overflowing of water onto land which normally remains dry. Though coastal areas are more prone to it, flooding can occur anywhere, at any given time, and during any season of the year. However, there is an increased risk of flooding during the hurricane season that is generally from June to November.
Flooding and flash flooding have the potential to wreak havoc across the country. They can be and are often deadly, causing mass destruction to life and property.
The only way to protect yourself and your business from such damage is to be prepared for the eventuality well beforehand. Otherwise, you won’t be able to do much during a flood.
Here are the five steps to adequately prepare your business for a flood:
1. Understand Floods
The first and perhaps the most important thing to do is understand why and how floods occur in order to accurately gauge or predict the damage and the measures you can take.
There are two basic types of floods: a regular river flood and a flash flood.
In a regular river flood, the water climbs slowly and gradually over the edges of the water bank, eventually spilling onto the land. The flash flood, on the other hand, is more intense and sudden. It occurs when the water level rises very quickly and sweeps across the surrounding areas, completely engulfing them in the waves of rushing water.
Floods can be caused due to intense, continuous rainfall, especially in territories near water bodies, such as a lake, river, stream, or culvert. They can be due to the ice jams in a river, considerable urbanization, frozen or oversaturated soil, and melting of snowcaps or deep snow covers. It can also be caused by the blockage of waterways due to debris, breakage of the water containment systems, such as a dam or a levee, or strong winds causing a water surge, such as in a hurricane or tropical storm.
2. Devise a Thorough Emergency Plan
Regardless of whether you’re expecting a flood to occur, if you live in a low-lying, coastal area, or near a water body, your business should have a thorough flood contingency plan in place. It’s advisable to devise a well-thought-out plan, which should include:
- A definitive evacuation route
- A complete emergency kit, which has clean water containers, a significant supply of non-perishable food, first aid, flash lights, battery-powered communication devices, purifying supplies, clothes, and personal hygiene supplies
- Sandbag barricades in place to prevent property damage
- Strictly protected business specific documentation and information
3. Be Flood Ready
While it’s not quite possible to exactly pinpoint the possible occurrence of a flash flood months in advance, there are ways you can make your business flood ready.
- Install backflow prevention valves at the vulnerable spots in the building, such as the utility and sewer lines
- Regularly clean gutters
- Maintain storm drains
- Inspect and replace drain pipes as needed
- Safely place valuable items at higher ground
- Move electrical equipment to higher ground before the flood
- Have circuit breakers in place in order to disconnect electricity during flood emergencies
- Remove fuel tanks and other dangerous things from the basement
4. Consider Financial Coverage
Regardless of whatever preparation you might have done, floods, much like other natural disasters, are likely to cause some damage to your business and its valuable assets. As such, it’s highly recommended to have flood insurance in place, especially if your business is located in a known flood plain. Flood damage, business interruption, and loss of revenue are just some of the things to keep in mind when thinking about financial coverage to deal with flood induced damage.
5. Train Yourself and Your Staff for Safer Working Practices
The best way to prepare for floods, as well as for any other natural calamity, is to get trained for the best workplace practices for environmental and health safety purposes. For business owners, members of the staff, and safety personnel, it is essential to undergo thorough environmental safety training in order to be prepared to deal with flooding conditions.
You can find more information on environmental and health safety training and protocols here.