The threat of floods has increased significantly in recent years, and these rough waters don’t appear to be leaving us anytime soon. If you have been affected by flooding you will know the devastation and disruption it can cause to you and your business.
Over 5 million people in England and Wales and 100,000 people in Scotland live or work in areas at risk from coastal or river flooding. Many more are at risk of flash flooding caused by torrential downpours.
In this article we outline some practical steps you can take to protect your nursery business before a flood occurs and steps you can take after a flood to get your business back on track as quickly as possible.
The most important action you can take is to find out if you are in an area that is at risk of flooding. Being aware of whether your nursery is in a flood risk area can help you prepare and help you to understand the extent to which you may be affected. Download our simple Flood Preparation Checklist (below) to help make sure you cover all the necessary bases.
If you are in an area likely to be affected you should draw up a flood response plan. You may already have this as part of a wider disaster recovery plan, but if not you can download our Business Flood Plan template (below). Any plan should be shared with staff so they are clear what is expected of them. The plan should deal with how you will notify parents and evacuate children in the event that flooding occurs during opening hours.
Keep up to date
Floodline Warnings Direct is a free service provided by the Environment Agency which gives real time flood warnings and advice by phone, text or email. If you have identified that you are in an area at risk of flooding you should register with this service. This can be done online at the Environmental Agency website or by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188.
In England and Wales further information is available from the Environment Agency at where you will also find flood risk maps. You can enter your postcode into the flood map to see a visual representation of the flood risk in your area.
In Scotland the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) provide similar facilities on their website. SEPA also provide a free flood notification service which you can sign up for on their website.
Test and refine your flood plan:
- Are you able to move furniture upstairs as easily as you thought you could?
- Does your team remember what their role is in the event of a flood?
- Is your contact information for parents up to date?
- Obtain a supply of sandbags and store them at the nursery.
- Make sure everybody knows how to use sandbags or contact your district / borough council for advice on sandbags and assistance.
If your property is next to a watercourse, you have responsibilities set out here guidance on the rights and responsibilities of owning a riverside property.
Before a flood
- turn off gas, electricity and water supplies at the mains;
- Unplug all electrical items and where possible store them up high or upstairs. With heavy electrical items such as fridges raise them on bricks if possible;
- Put the lid down on your toilets and place something heavy, like bricks on top to stop the water coming in through waste pipes;
- Put plugs in sinks, weigh them down with a sandbag, pillowcase or plastic bag filled with garden soil or a heavy object;
- Keep all important documents in a watertight plastic bag in a high safe place. This should include lists of important telephone numbers such as:
- Emergency services;
- Local council;
- Emergency claims line for your insurance broker or insurance company;
- Your landlord;
- Move as much furniture and equipment as possible upstairs, particularly high value items or those more susceptible for water damage. If items can’t be carried, move them away from the wall as this will speed up drying times later;
- Don’t forget about contents in outbuildings or sheds.
- If possible open doors and windows and smear the frame with silicone sealant, then shut and lock them to provide a watertight joint. For flooding deeper than a metre, you should allow flood water to enter the property to prevent any structural damage that could be caused by a build up of water outside.
During a flood
- Do not attempt to walk or drive through flood water – six inches of fast flowing water can knock you off your feet and two feet of water could float your car. Manhole covers may have come loose and there may be other hazards you cannot see below the water;
- Try to avoid contact with flood water to avoid any potential contamination risk.
After a flood
- Boil drinking water before use;
- Do not handle electrical items that are or could have been water damaged;
- If your electricity was turned off have a qualified electrician check the installation before having it switched back on. Equally if your gas was switched off a GasSafe registered tradesperson should check the gas supply before it is switched back on;
- Try to photograph and make detailed lists of the damaged items to assist your insurers in the handling of your claim;
- Wear appropriate clothing and gloves when handling anything that has been contaminated by flood water. Remember floodwater often contains sewage, so take sensible hygiene precautions.
- Consider making changes to your premises to minimise the impact of future floods. This could include things like raising electrical sockets higher up the wall, replacing plaster with a water-resistant version or replacing timber floors with concrete.
Moving to temporary premises
If your property is too damaged to use as a nursery and you manage to secure temporary accommodation, English nurseries need to contact Ofsted straight away as you will need to be registered for temporary accommodation. Welsh nurseries must contact CSSIW (page 5 of the notification form refers to change of premises). Scottish nurseries must complete a “notification” form by logging in to the Care Inspectorate website
Make sure you let your insurance provider now if you are using a temporary so that appropriate cover can be added to your policy.
Make sure you keep parents informed and involved as much as possible.
For more information on preparing your business for the effects of flooding visit talk to a member of our Early Years Business Support team on 01473 346118 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.