How to help reduce the effects of flooding

You can’t control the weather, but the weather can take control of your business. When a rainy day turns into a wet week, or a spring thaw tests the integrity of your warehouse, the potential for flooding begins to rise. If you don’t have the right measures in place, you could be left with a load of soggy inventory – and a lot of lost revenue.

Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in Canada, and though the effects can be extreme, they can also be minimized with the right preventative measures and a calm, calculated reaction. Water damage can be difficult to predict or contain, but there are precautions, approaches, and maneuvers that can help reduce the impact of flooding in and around your workspace.

Flood-proofing your company’s property

In order to help protect your property from rising water levels, you first need to know where that water might be coming from. Is your business near a river? Are you on the coastline? Can the sewer system handle a major downpour? If you’re not sure how your geographical area could be affected, you might want to consult your city planning department for a look into infrastructure, which can help you determine your level of risk.

There’s no way to guarantee you’ll escape a flood, but there are several steps you can take to help reduce the destructive effects, including these permanent measures:

  • Backflow prevention check valves. These valves will stop floodwater from entering at vulnerable points where utility and sewer lines enter the facility.
  • Reinforced walls to resist water pressure and adequately seal walls to prevent or reduce seepage.
  • Watertight walls around equipment or work areas that are particularly susceptible to floodwater damage.
  • Floodwalls or levees outside the facility to keep flood waters at bay.
  • Permanent sump pumps with solar and backup power solutions. Backup power generators or battery supplies should be located well above the high-water mark.
  • Watertight barriers called flood shields. These will prevent the passage of water through doors, windows, ventilation shafts, or other openings.
  • Backup systems like portable pumps to remove flood water, alternate power sources (such as generators or gasoline-powered pumps), and battery-powered emergency lighting, located well above the high water mark.

Are you prepared for a worst-case scenario?

Floods can happen quickly, leaving you little time to react or recover your assets. A strong flood plan starts with a sound knowledge of what and where you have property, tools, and other crucial assets.

Know where you stand

First things first: check your insurance policy. Are you insured for flood damage, business interruption, and lost revenue? If you’re not, consider speaking with your broker about updating your policy to reflect any new or changing risks to your business.

Next, consider putting a back-up plan in place. Do you have copies of important documentation, like your insurance policy, in another easily accessible location? Keeping a second set of copies offsite is good insurance in itself.

Sort out your storage

Get familiar with your premises, including all the corners, lockers, and storage spaces that house key access points and potentially dangerous material and devices. Be sure you know the location of cut-off points for gas, electricity, and water. Ideally, these should be marked on a map that’s stored with the rest of your flood plan – and not blocked by equipment or merchandise – so you’ll be able to access the information easily in an emergency situation.

Take note of your stock, equipment, and possessions that may need special protection from flood waters. It’s particularly important to know the precise location of chemicals, oils, and other materials that could be dangerous or contaminate flood water; these should be stored safely away from other hazards as a matter of course.

Also, do your best to look ahead: consider things that could come in handy after you discover a flood, like sandbags, plastic sheeting, or a loudspeaker. Consider creating a flood emergency kit, adjusting the contents based on the type and size of your business property so you’ll be better equipped to handle the immediate effects of a flood until help arrives. Here are some things to consider including:

  • Flash light
  • Radio
  • Copies of insurance documents and any important phone numbers
  • Spare batteries
  • Medicines, blankets, and food (with a substantial shelf life)
  • Dry clothes
  • First aid kit
  • Mobile phone
  • Cash

Plan for your people

Make a list of employees’ contact details in the event of an evacuation. This might include their mobile and home telephone numbers, as well as the number of a friend or relative. Would any of your staff need special assistance in the event of a flood? Consider how elderly, deaf, blind, or differently abled employees might benefit from specific measures to help them move more quickly and easily to a safer location.

Include your flood evacuation plan in your health and safety plan. Identify evacuation routes, and organize emergency drills for staff periodically, so everyone has a good idea of how to respond and where to relocate. It may also be possible to move key operations, such as shipping and receiving or customer services, to another location – consider if this might be worth your while.

Make a list of telephone numbers for important contacts, including your providers of gas, electricity, water and phone plans. You may want to designate a staff member to keep copies of these numbers, or else store the information where it can be accessed swiftly whenever you need it.

Consider creating a flood emergency kit, adjusting the contents based on the type and size of your business property so you’ll be better equipped to handle the immediate effects of a flood until help arrives.

Stay in touch with suppliers and business contacts

Floods are easier to handle when you have some helping hands at the ready. Begin by identifying people who can help you before, during, and after a flood, and make your flood plan common knowledge. Next, think about the products and services you might need in the event of a flood – and those you don’t.

Consider contracting in advance with companies who can help you recover from a flood. This way, you can avoid the frustration of looking for professional assistance in the midst of an emergency. Although flood planning may seem like a lot of work, emergencies can be expensive, and being unprepared could end up costing you more time and money than you might imagine.

Team up with the experts

There are countless scenarios and challenges that can pop-up during and after a flood, and it’s impossible to prepare for everything while you attend to your daily business operations. That’s where we come in: our industry knowledge and insurance expertise can help you minimize hazards and get your business back up and running more quickly.

When you take the time to protect your business with a sound flood plan – and record flood damage carefully – you’re one step closer to a swift recovery. Request a quote to learn how Northbridge Insurance can contribute to your flood prevention and recovery plan, from risk management expertise to industry-specific coverage that will help keep your business afloat.