Recent winters have seen severe weather across the UK and overseas with widespread disruption to business operations and damage to property. For some there has been a long, difficult process of recovery, while for others, it has meant the end of the road.
There is good evidence that businesses who take measures to prepare for adverse events get back to normal more quickly and easily. The following top tips are focused on easy actions for small businesses to take to reduce the impacts of these events, and be better prepared for the future.
Assess Your Risk
Taking these types of action can help with insurance premiums and claims.
- Check if your premises are in an area at risk of flooding by looking at the Environment Agency’s flood risk maps.
- Sign up to our free 24 hour Floodline Warnings Direct Service. Warnings can be sent by phone, text, email, fax or pager. The more warning you have, the more time you have to prepare and protect your business.
- Develop a flood plan.
- Complete the business resilience healthcheck tool to get a personalised report and recommendations about how your business can adapt to severe weather and a changing climate. If you are part of the tourism industry there is specific guidance available for you.
- Check your insurance cover at least annually. Does your insurance policy cover the full value of your business? Check if you have business continuity insurance that will cover you whilst you cannot do business. In the case of a major flood, for example, there can be long delays while property dries out.
Prepare your premises for flooding
- If you are at flood risk consider measures such as flood proof doors, raising door thresholds, flood proof air bricks and non-return valves on drains.
- Think about valuable equipment, stock and resources and move them upstairs or to a high, wall mounted shelf.
- If possible, keep electrical equipment more than 1.5 m above the floor.
- Put important documents in a waterproof, easily accessible container.
- Add crucial information to your phone so you have it with you.
Backup your computer and IT systems
- Backup critical business files.
- Review the location of your key IT equipment to identify if it is at risk from increased temperatures and/or flooding.
- Consider getting a server with remote access so that key staff can access your computer files from any computer.
Have a plan for water supply problems
- Can you harvest water on-site?
- If there was a drought and a resulting hosepipe ban or other restrictions, would you be able to continue to do business? Water companies have a legal duty to supply households, but not businesses.
- You could complete a water audit to understand water usage for your business to help identify water efficiency measures you can make to save you money and increase your resilience.
Provide a safe working environment for staff
- Brief them on managing heat stress and on-site health and safety in the event of extreme conditions.
- Consider flexible working and working from home.
- Do you have a list of emergency contacts for your staff? If your staff are unable to get to work, can you continue to do business?
- Can they work from home, with access to IT?
Have a plan in place to manage supplier, logistics and delivery problems
This includes international supply chains and providers as well as those in the UK.
- Check if your supplier and logistics providers have an emergency or resilience plan.
- Do you have a plan for alternate material, suppliers or logistics in place?
- Could you minimise travel for your goods and services? The Climate Ready supply chain guidance can help you prepare.
Do you have any plans in place to manage disruptions to power / energy supply?
- Do you have access to a generator or emergency supply?
- Do you know how to turn off the gas, electricity and water supplies to your business?
- Can you identify alternate working locations?
- You could complete an energy audit to understand energy efficiency measures that will save you money and increase your resilience.
Think about how you might support your local community
- Link up with others to work together in the case of emergency.
- Get to know other businesses local to your operations so that you can easily make contact if needed.