It has been a particularly wet start to 2024 with flooding across many parts of the UK.

When a business has experienced a flood or storm, it’s often difficult for business owners to know what to do, and equally what not to do, in order to mitigate the loss and reduce risk to the business.

  1. Are services such as electricity, gas and water still operating? If not, check the reason for this with the utility company, and obtain an estimate for the reinstatement of the supply.
  2. If services are still on, do they present a threat? For example, if a property is flooded, should the power be turned off at the mains to prevent short-circuits and a possible fire?
  3. Act as if you’re uninsured. Make urgent decisions on the basis of what is best for the business and what is critical for business survival, not on the basis of what insurers may perhaps want.
  4. Take photographs of the damage – the more the better. This will assist in identifying the extent of the damage for an insurance claim down the line, as memories can fade and become blurred.
  5. If possible, move undamaged stock and equipment higher up, out of reach of potential rising flood water. If in two-storey premises, move whatever possible from the ground floor to the first floor.
  6. In any event, move undamaged goods/stock away from damaged goods/stock. This will help to prevent contamination.
  7. If perishable stock, especially foodstuff and similar, has been saturated, try to dispose of it before it becomes a health hazard. Ensure it is correctly recorded and photographed as it is disposed of.
  8. If you’re uncertain regarding your position on the possible health risks of damaged goods/ stock, and whether it is salvageable or not, seek immediate advice from the local Environmental Health Officer. They will inspect and issue certificates for condemned goods. Find your local Environmental Health Officer here.
  9. Take what immediate necessary measures are possible for mopping up. Do not wait for someone to give you permission!
  10. Ensure there is plenty of ventilation to the premises. This can help to prevent possible mould growth.
  11. If necessary, contact specialist damage management drying and cleaning companies to attend ASAP and assist with pumping out of water and drying premises. Details can be obtained from the British Damage Management Association (BDMA) on 01858 414278.
  12. Do not dispose of anything that may be salvageable. Try to store this separately, and do obtain assistance from a specialist damage management company.
  13. If the premises will be left unattended, secure them to prevent further loss or damage.
  14. If you’re a tenant, contact your landlord, via the managing agent if appropriate, ASAP to advise of the position and request they take immediate necessary action. You cannot return to your main premises until the building has been dried and repaired.
  15. If the premises are unhabitable, try to locate suitable local alternative premises, if possible. You will be able to continue temporary trading from these.
  16. Try to reallocate internal resources from unaffected areas of the business. This may help you maintain ongoing sales.
  17. Contact customers to advise them of the position, especially where immediate supply of promised orders is affected and now no longer possible. You should seek to reassure them for a longer term position.
  18. Prioritise those customers key to the business, as the initial recovery of the business proceeds.
  19. Create a separate cost code in the accounts specific to the flood/storm damage and allocate al related expenditure to this code. This will be easier to track costs later when the insurance claim is being agreed. This is especially important for any additional expenditure incurred to maintain the business.
  20. Contact your insurance broker ASAP. They will be able to either provide advice or point you in the right direction for specialist advice.