Preparing your business for a flood

Protecting your property against the threat of flood damage should be a priority for any business, and there is plenty of support and advice available for firms.

Here’s a rundown of how you can prepare your premises in advance of a flood, and some of the agencies which are there to help.

Seven must-do steps

A flood can come with very little warning, but there are some steps that business owners can take to help protect their property.

  • Sign up for Environment Agency flood warnings.
  • Create a flood plan.
  • Make sure your staff are trained in flood safety procedures. These will vary depending on your premises, but should focus on getting your people to safety in the event of a flood.
  • Create a stockpile of potentially useful materials like plastic sheeting and tools.
  • Consider whether you need to install flood protection products.
  • Speak to your insurer to make sure you have sufficient flood insurance to cover your business.
  • Store your insurance policy documents digitally or away from the premises so they can be accessed in the event of a flood.
Man desk in water

The Environment Agency's flood warning service

The Environment Agency is responsible for issuing flood warnings in England and Wales and you can sign up to receive any advance warnings affecting your area by visiting the Environment Agency or calling the Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

The 24-hour service is free and you can choose to receive alerts either by phone, email or text message.

You’ll need to provide:

  • the address you want alerts for
  • a phone number where you can be contacted day or night
  • an email address

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency offers a flood warning service in Scotland. 


Understanding flood warnings

There are three types of flood warning that the Environment Agency issues:

1. Flood Alert: Flooding is possible.
Be ready to act. Prepare essential items. Monitor flood forecasts.

2. Flood Warning: Flooding is expected. Immediate action required .
Move staff, stock and valuables to a safe place. Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies, if it is safe. Put flood protection equipment like sand bags in place.

3. Severe Flood Warning: Severe flooding. Danger to life.
Stay in a safe place. Be ready to evacuate. Co-operate with the emergency services. Call 999 if you are in immediate danger.


What is a flood plan?

A flood plan is a document that shows what your business needs to do if there is a flood.

The Environment Agency has produced a template (pdf, 1.2Mb) for businesses to use, which can be downloaded for free, along with advice on how to fill it in.

A good flood plan should include:

  • a checklist of actions to take and the order in which to take them.
  • numbers for important contacts.
  • details of where flood protection materials are stored.

The aim is to have a plan of action in place so that everyone knows their responsibilities, and it’s important that all staff are familiar with it.

Staff should also keep a copy of the plan at home, in case it can’t be accessed at work.

Once you have written a flood plan it’s a good idea to refer to it regularly to make sure it’s up to date.

Flooded street

What help is available?

  • The National Flood Forum a charity that supports communities at risk of flooding, produces an online directory of property flood products and services that is designed to help you make informed decisions before buying
  • Your local council may be able to supply sandbags to help block doorways, drains and other opening for short periods in times of flooding. Check with them in advance on what their policy is
  • The Environment Agency has created a free downloadable guide (pdf, 263kb) on how to get hold of sandbags and how to best use them to protect your business

Find out more about whether your premises will be covered in the event of a flood on our page how to claim for flood damage.

For a comprehensive guide to business insurance, visit the Swinton business insurance page


Published: 8th February 2017

More Flood Guides