Sarah Cox: How to prepare your premises for winter storms and flash floods

13 Dec 2021 Expert insight

Sarah Cox from Ansvar explains how charities should prepare for winter weather to protect their premises from damange

This content has been supplied by a commercial partner.

With the colder weather setting in for the foreseeable future, the evenings getting dark before you finish work, and the constant threat of torrential rain and high winds; you should set a plan in place to prepare and protect your premises from the harshest weather.

The last thing you want in the midst of winter is to have to battle with the elements triaging an incident that could have been avoided! In this Ansvar blog we will be sharing our recommendations to get you started preparing your premises for the winter. 

If there’s a storm coming

We highly recommend creating a ‘to-do’ list for when a storm is forecast. This way you can ensure nothing is forgotten and you can complete the tasks quickly and efficiently. You’ll know your premises best and will be able to identify any key danger zones, but some key elements to consider are:

You should secure loose objects in your grounds - such as ladders, furniture or anything else that could be blown into windows and other glazing. Keep a running list of the items and location of all objects of this nature so you can refer back whenever you need it.

Each day, you should make sure all doors and windows are closed and securely fastened, particularly those on the windward or more exposed side of the building and especially large doors such as those on garages. 

If you have a garage, you should park vehicles inside them whenever possible; and if you this is not available, be mindful of not parking in the way of buildings, trees, walls and fences if at all avoidable.

If your building is fitted with storm shutters over the windows then make sure these are closed and fastened whenever there is the threat of a storm, and close and secure loft trapdoors with bolts, especially if your roof pitch is less than 30°.

For more information on how to prepare, what to do during, and following a storm, please view Ansvar’s storm safety advice.

Preparing for flash flooding

The annual cost of flood damage in the UK is estimated to be in excess of £1bn. Taking some simple steps to protect your premises is so important to minimise any potential damage.

First, you should complete a flood assessment of your site to determine the risk of flash flooding to your premises, and at the same time work out the risk of fluvial flooding (when water overflows watercourses such as rivers or streams), leading to the development of an overall Flood Plan.

You can input your postcode on the Environment Agency website to see which level of flash flooding risk they have identified for your area. We also recommend visiting the government website for more guidance to support the completion of flood assessments and Flood Plans, including templates for capturing the relevant risk information.

As part of your regular safety checks, you should inspect your drains and drainage channels to make sure they are clear. You should do this every three months, especially at the end of autumn after the leaves have finished falling. Your guttering should be inspected at least once a year. 

Depending on your risk, you may wish to hold flood resistance measures in your premises to prevent flood water entering your property, which may include: flood barriers, sand bags, airbrick covers, and non-return valves.

Flood defence products purchased for use as part of your Flood Plan must be regularly inspected and checked to ensure they remain fit for purpose and available when required. 

You can view more in-depth recommendations by reading Ansvar’s flash flooding risk prevention guide.

Should I take further professional advice? 

We strongly recommend you seek professional advice about your specific premises to ensure you are adequately protected, but hopefully this article has given you food for thought, and an idea of where to start.

If you plan on making structural changes to your buildings to create additional protection against the elements, make sure you consult an architect, a suitably qualified consulting engineer and/or chartered surveyor before undertaking any work. Remember to view our risk guides linked in this article for further advice and information. 

Sarah Cox is the Managing Director of charity and faith insurance specialist, Ansvar, the sponsors of this piece.


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