With news reports focusing on the pandemic for most of this year, it’s easy to forget that last year we were bombarded by extreme weather reports on what felt like a weekly basis.
From one extreme to another
The hottest June on record was followed by record temperatures in July before being swamped with floods before the end of the summer.
Extreme weather is defined when a weather event is significantly different from the average or usual patter. There seems to be little doubt that extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common, as well as more intense.
Floods, droughts and heatwaves
Flash flooding, droughts, storms, cold periods and sudden heatwaves are all examples of extreme weather in this country.
These events can cause destruction on a local or national scale and often lead to widespread disruption to our working lives.
Strong winds can cause structural damage and disrupt road and rail links, not to mention giving rise to storms along our coastline. Excess rainfall leads to sometimes devastating flooding and landslips, causing untold water damage. Heatwaves can make trains slow down, railway lines buckle and can even wreak havoc with overhead electric cables. Soaring temperatures can even lead to localised flooding as they can make the ground shift, causing water main pipes to contract, expand and burst, leaving potentially thousands of people without water. Infrequent in the UK, but nonetheless inconvenient, heavy snowfall can also lead to floods and damage to buildings and infrastructure.
We are fortunate in the UK to have a generally very reliable system of extreme weather warning alerts, thanks to the work of organisations such as the Environment Agency and the Met office.
With lockdown and quarantine rules coming in to play this year, a large number of businesses had to draw up and urgently put into practice a disaster management plan. For many, risk of a pandemic had probably not been considered a genuine issue before. A large proportion of organisations probably still haven’t properly risk assessed when it comes to managing their business through an extreme weather event. This is arguably far more likely to happen in the future and then to occur more than once, than another global pandemic.
Be prepared….for anything
There are a number of measure business owners can put in place to protect themselves as far as possible or at least limit potential damage from an extreme weather event.
- First of all, identify what you think the most likely risks are. Are you close to a river that has seen recent flooding? Or are you close to the sea and vulnerable to storm surges in periods of very high winds?
- What are the critical functions of your business? What is the absolute minimum you have to have in order to maintain its day to day running? Communications and the ability to fulfil orders or transactions are probably high up on this list.
- Don’t forget that your suppliers and customers may not be geographically close by – you should consider the impact on your business of extreme weather events in their areas too.
- Emergency evacuation plans, just like fire drills, should be a regular part of the efficient running of your business. Make sure every employee is familiar with it and knows what to do if they need to get out of your premises quickly and safely.
- Data protection is absolutely key. These days it is easier than ever to limit potential damage to ‘paperwork’. Make sure you have implemented a cloud storage system that you can safely access from anywhere. This should include your accounts, any contracts, your orders, HR records etc as well as contact details for your employees, customers and suppliers.
- Many of us have now learned to perfect the art of working from home. Make sure you and all your employees are as prepared as possible in case you have to do it again, potentially with very little warning.
- Talk to your insurance company to make sure you have identified and mitigated against risk and that you have sufficient insurance cover, should the worst happen.
The Forshaw Group works closely with insurance companies and loss adjusters to renovate commercial and residential property damaged by fire or flood. We offer a common-sense approach to providing practical, economical solutions to restore premises to their former condition. Contact us to find out more.