Summer Floods; Would Your Business be Prepared in the Event of a Disaster?

Peter Foster of Hugh J Boswell

Provisional Met Office figures show that 2012 has seen the UK’s wettest April and June, since records began in 1910.  Over a months worth of rain fell in the North West and North East within 24 hours, after flood warnings were issued to more than 7,000 homes and businesses. 

Although some of the UK remained unaffected, flash flooding and unpredictable weather conditions are becoming more and more common, leading the more proactive businesses to ask the question:

Would my business be prepared in the event of a disaster?

A disaster or crisis can strike a business at any time and failing to plan for such an event can undo years of good work and hard trading in an instant.  This can be the difference between your business recovering or failing; a return to full normal trading can often take a business more than a year.  According to a report undertaken by AXA in 2007, 80% of businesses affected by a major incident either never re-open or close within 18 months.  Imagine for example you had a fire which resulted in your premises closing for a re-build.  Such a disaster could result in obtaining planning permission/building warrants, allocating building contractors, allowing for delays on the build caused by holidays, poor weather conditions and availability of materials required. 

Assess the threats

Think of the threats in terms of the operations which are key to your business, such as:

  • Fire, flood or storm damage to your premises or stock
  • Explosion
  • Loss of power or other services
  • Threat of vital equipment or stock
  • Unavailability or loss of key personnel
  • Staff sickness levels (Swine Flu Pandemic)
  • Loss of customer or other records
  • Theft of delivery vehicles

Make a plan

Once you have assessed the threats, consider any potential actions you can take to reduce the risk of these occurring, or even prevent them altogether.  Are there steps you could take to reduce the scale of loss, or speed up your return to normality?

We recommend all businesses are supported by some form of Continuity Plan, regardless of their size

Think about things such as:

  • Organise suitable alternative premises
  • Keep an updated list of staff contact details off site
  • Arrange for an off-site storage solution for backed up files
  • Making sure fire extinguishers are regularly inspected, maintained and appropriately located
  • Train staff in emergency procedures including the use of fire extinguishers
  • Invest in a fire resistant safe for important paper records
  • Carry out back up procedures for important computer records
  • Fit fire alarms, burglar alarms, CCTV and any other relevant security systems
  • Ensure germ killing hand foam is available for staff and visitors

Peter Foster of Hugh J Boswell states; “we recommend all businesses are supported by some form of Continuity Plan, regardless of their size.  Many businesses underestimate the sheer quantity of time and effort required to get their business back up and running following a substantial loss.  By being prepared, you can reduce the time required to return your business to pre-loss trading levels, and help minimise the impact on your business.”

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