Financial help possibly on the way for flood-hit small businesses - what else can you do?

It is safe to say that the weather over the past few days has been a little on the extreme side.  With hurricane-force winds and floods hitting the UK, more and more people are becoming inconvenienced by the prevailing conditions.

Obviously, this includes small businesses, with many in the worst affected areas having their trade severely disrupted by the weather. A report from the Environment Agency in November stated that the 2012 floods cost UK businesses £200 million. The worsening situation in the south has been described by some commentators as worse than those of 2012, so that cost to UK business - and small businesses in particular - could be huge.

While the recently announced grants of £5,000 to help small businesses affected currently will help some businesses, there are other things you can do. Whether your business is being threatened by flooding today or not, if you live in an at-risk area, you really need to think about managing your flood risk.

Below, we give you'll find some handy advice about what your small business should be doing before, during and after a flood.

Pre-flood checks

Don't just go head first into protecting your small business from floods - you need to think about the likelihood of getting flooded first. Things to consider include:

  1. Have you been hit by floods before?
  2. Are you close to a river, stream or other water body?
  3. Is your business in a flood plain?
  4. Does your property have a basement or cellar that could be hit by surface water flooding?

Reducing risk

If you answered yes to any of the above, there are many actions you should take almost immediately to reduce the impact of flooding on your business - too many to feature here in all honesty. Here are a few quick, easy-to-implement actions you can take to reduce a flood's impact on your small business:

  1. Raise all critical equipment off the ground, such as computer servers and telecommunications
  2. Check building structure for defects and gaps regularly
  3. Make a flood kit with important business documents, a torch, batteries, mobile phone, rubber gloves, a first aid kit and other useful equipment
  4. Raise plug sockets and other electrical connection points to a higher position on the wall
  5. Add to existing emergency plans to cover for flooding events

If you have found that your premises could be susceptible to flooding, you should also consider your insurance options too. Here is a quick rundown of the process:

  1. Talk through options with your insurer
  2. Fully assess flood risk, and get a specialist to suggest the best option  for resistance
  3. Have more discussions with your insurer, and find out more about cost
  4. Agree cover with insurer

Actions if flooding imminent

Again, if you have it on good authority that you are going to be affected by a flood, there are many things you should do immediately. Here are a few of the most important:

  1. Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies
  2. Move vehicles to higher ground
  3. Relocate any vulnerable stock to a safe location

What to do during a flood

  1. Follow all instructions given by emergency services
  2. Don't walk through any flood water of six inches or above, and definitely avoid any running water
  3. Act quickly to ensure the safety of your employees and yourself

After a flood

Obviously once a flood alert has rescinded, the clean-up operation begins:

  1. Let your insurance company know what has happened - they should then advise next steps
  2. Don't dispose of any items until you're told to do so
  3. Document all damage caused
  4. Have flood protection devices (if any) professionally cleaned as soon as possible
  5. Refrain from using gas or electricity until advised to do so