Warmer weather is a welcome change – as long as melting snow and spring showers don’t complicate matters. Unfortunately for many Canadian business owners, flood recovery is a year-round challenge, and it can be incredibly expensive if you keep product, equipment, or other important assets in your work space.
Know your flood risk to plan your defense
The most common type of flooding? In Canada, it’s snowmelt runoff: traced to sudden winter thaws or climbing spring temperatures, rapidly melting snow can run over the surface of the frozen ground and into streams and lakes. Rain makes matters worse, and before you know it, your parking lot could look more like a swimming pool.
The good news is there’s plenty you can do to reduce your risk of spring flooding, water damage, and all the other complications that come with it. Start with these three tips for better flood prevention and quicker flood recovery — and don’t forget to download our water damage checklist below!
- Build up your defenses. Think barriers, backflow, and backups: the more physical tools and protection you have at your disposal, the better your building will be able to weather a flood. This may sound obvious, but many business owners don’t consider what smart waterproofing really entails.
First, figure out where the water is coming from. Is your workspace near a river? A lake? An overworked sewer system? A big downpour can quickly overwhelm a nearby water supply or reservoir, so keep your environmental surroundings in mind (you may even want to consult your city planning department to get a better idea of the underground infrastructure).
Step two: put some time and effort into assessing and improving the protective measures you have in your work or storage space. Some important systems and devices include:
- Backflow prevention check valves
- Reinforced walls
- Watertight walls around equipment
- Floodwalls outside the facility
- Sump pumps with solar and backup solutions
- Flood shields
- Backup systems
Of course, there are all sorts of ways to shore up your shop. Not sure where to begin? Talking to a risk management professional can help identify what you already have in place, where there’s room for improvement, and any crucial elements that demand your immediate attention.
- Prepare for many worst-case scenarios. A wet storeroom is only one possible fate; floods can have many far-reaching consequences that you may not have imagined, like ruined equipment and lost revenue while you close up shop to clean up the mess.
Ready to develop a flood plan? Great! Just be sure to consider all the factors at play, including your assets and equipment and where they live, not to mention the best tools to help keep your business afloat in a flooding emergency – and remember that emergencies come in all shapes and sizes.
Know your policy. First things first, read your insurance policy to know what exactly you’re covered for. Property damage, business interruption, and liability insurance are critical coverages if your business is to bounce back, but you may need other coverage too, depending on the nature of your business. Your insurance broker can help you sort out the details and upgrade your policy appropriately.
Take stock. An up-to-date inventory will help you stay on top of your day-to-day operations, but it will also point to products, equipment, and other assets that may need some extra focus when it comes to flood protection. It’s important to know exactly where chemicals, oils, and other hazardous or contaminating materials are kept, because these products can cause major problems if they encounter flood water.
Predict your weak spots. Do you know your workspace like the back of your hand? If not, it’s time to do some careful investigating. Get familiar with all the nooks and crannies, the lockers and boxes that house vulnerable devices and delicate materials. These need extra protection. It’s also a good idea to mark on a map the location of cut-off points for gas, electricity, and water – and make sure that map is posted in a central, accessible location.
Look ahead. What sort of things could come in handy during or after a flood? Stay one step ahead by putting together an emergency flood kit that’s suited to your type and size of business. Here are just some of the things to consider including in your kit:
- Sandbags, plastic sheeting, and a loudspeaker (helpful tools to help organize a response and an evacuation)
- Flash light
- Copies of insurance documents and important phone numbers
- Dry clothing
- First aid kit
- Mobile phone
- Blankets and food
It’s important to know exactly where chemicals, oils, and other hazardous materials are kept, since these products can cause major problems if they encounter flood water.
- Mobilize your people. Your staff, partners, vendors, and risk experts are your closest allies in an emergency. A well-rounded team can help you escape the disaster with minimal consequences.
Look out for your employees
Emergencies can call for evacuations, and evacuations can be chaotic. Having a list of employees’ contact details – including mobile number, home number, and the contact info for a friend or relative – can make things much easier to handle. Practice your emergency evacuation plan, so everyone knows what to do and where to go. Consider any staff that might need some extra help in the case of emergency: is there anything more you can do to ensure they can get where they need to be?
Reach out to vendors and providers
You’ll also want to gather the phone numbers of your gas, electricity, water, and Internet providers. The sooner you can contact these key allies, the quicker you can get things back on track. Specific service providers may be able to help you recover from the flood, too, especially if you contract with them in advance: look out for companies who can provide professional assistance during and after a flood, and contact them now about setting up an action plan.
Turn to the experts
It can be difficult to know when, where, and how to protect against water damage, especially when your mind is focused on your daily operations. So why not let risk specialists help? Experts in risk management have a keen eye for potential areas for improvement, and they can spot small issues that could lead to major trouble.