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Preparing for the storms

Many people associate the risk of flooding with the winter months, yet as the recent British summers have shown, floods can strike at any time. It’s therefore important, says Paul Marlow of Xylem, to have plans in place, should the worst happen. Here, he outlines a few key considerations.

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Keeping an eye on the weather forecast may seem obvious, but don’t rely on them entirely. A clear weather forecast for some does not take into account the effect of storms and rain further upstream. Come the deluge, businesses need to be prepared, which is why business continuity planning is so important. But where to start?
• Identify potential points of failure: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so it’s important to identify what your weak link is. Check your gutters and drains, ensure all your pumps and machinery are maintained correctly and that nothing has lapsed. Don’t leave repairs until the last minute.
•  Keep your equipment in tip top condition: Although many of us wouldn’t like to admit it, when time is short, maintenance and the basics can fall to the wayside. Reliability of equipment is directly linked to a good maintenance programme, so ensure any existing pumps are in good working condition and keep them that way.
• Review your emergency plan and get back up equipment: Consider what your business might do in a flood and the equipment you might need to implement that plan. For example if you plan to use diesel generators to power your pumps in an emergency, you will need a good fuel supply but you will also need to consider the health and safety requirements.
Equally, if electrical equipment is the preferred solution, it’s important to consider where this might be located and any remedial works that might be required on site.
• Protect your people and help them prepare: Make sure everyone else working on site and remotely are kept informed. Being prepared for a flood is as much about communication as anything else – so consider remote workers, access to site and crucially the safety of employees at all times.
• Check your insurance: We have all heard the unfortunate stories of businesses that have been caught short as a result of no insurance cover during floods. Check with your provider that you are covered in the event of both natural flooding from rivers and streams, as well as the man-made ones like a burst pipe.
•  Availability of information: Consider where you store your business continuity plans and make sure copies are available across a number of sites. There’s no point producing a robust business continuity plan if its located in the one part of your site that’s flooded – share the communication plan with a number of colleagues and store either remotely or have copies across a number of sites.
•  Keep the basics to hand: Torches and batteries are incredibly helpful in a number of situations in the home and at work, so keep them handy. It’s also worth bearing in mind how you will communicate with people – if by mobile, make sure key personnel have in-car chargers and other portable electronics.

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