Storm Barney: Charity Preparations
Storm Barney, the second UK weather system to be named is set to arrive with 80 mph winds predicted by the met office. This follows last weeks Storm Abigail which left 20,000 properties powerless.
How can your charity prepare for such a storm? What precautions are advisable to reduce the risk of damage and business interruption to your organisation?
There are a number of sensible precautions we would advise charities to make in preparing for Storm Barney. Unfortunately, most of them require a good degree of preparation and so if you cannot say that your organisation would be ‘storm ready’, these simple precautions are sensible considerations for you in the future.
Understand What is Coming
The environment agency provides up to date flood warnings and information about river levels. Usefully, they make a three-day prediction too.
To complement this, stay up to date with the met office and the yellow and red warnings they issue upon their own website.
You can take a number of precautions to prepare for bad weather, such as storms and floods.
Storm Preparations for You
Make sure you have to hand any details you might need in the event of a loss following a storm. You might want to check that you have the latest contact details for your council, any utility companies (often electricity goes down and this is a critical step to getting back into action after a storm). Of course, Ladbrook would also recommend that your charity has its insurance details to hand, perhaps with a copy stored away from the insured premises, available in case the site is not.
As simple as it sounds, make sure you have a mobile phone charged too. If phones are not operating following a claim, a mobile might be an essential tool for starting to make good following a storm loss.
Storm Preparations for your Charity Premises
If your charity has vehicles, move them to a higher ground, vehicles can be flooded or swept away in storms and simply moving it out of the waters way might save a big claim and the loss of use of an essential vehicle.
Secure any loose items. Commonly, items left outside might cause damage to your property or a neighbours property, or even injury to an individual.
If floods are expected, move items of value to upstairs rooms or get them raised. This might mean more essential and valuable items are salvaged in the event of a flood.
Although we would recommend that you review your coverage well ahead of needing it, checking the level of business interruption cover, your charity has is essential. This is the coverage that helps the charity continue to operate after a substantive loss. For example, paying wages without an income or moving to a temporary accommodation. Making sure you have considered your business continuity needs and have insured your income appropriately is essential.
Again, preparing for a storm in the hours running up to it is poor practice, it will not allow you to make full preparations. We would also advise clients to keep an eye on regular maintenance issues. Having loose fencing and boundaries can cause issues in the event of high winds, make sure yours are in good condition. Similarly, pay attention to drains and gutters, making sure that water can get away from your charity property as efficiently as possible.
If your roof has any cracked tiles, these will be exposed in a storm, similarly and loose flashing, cement or ridge tiles and damaged external rendering will also provide the opportunity for water to access your property.
After the Storm
Do not return to the building, or let others do so until it is perfectly safe. For example, if it is clear that the charity property has suffered some severe damage, allowing a member of staff to return to inspect the damage might make you liable for injury claims that they suffer. It is always best to get paid contractors to inspect damage in the first instance.
Contact your insurer immediately, they will be keen to help make sure that any temporary emergency repairs are made to help reduce costs in the long run and help you get back to your feet immediately. Even if you need to pay for the first steps, just keep the receipts as they will be a part of your claim. While many insurers act perfectly reasonably regarding immediate remedy, be careful about appointing your own contractors without first obtaining your insurers approval. The first paragraph of our ‘post storm advice’ though trumps this, do not attempt any temporary repairs unless it is absolutely safe to do so.
Flooded property takes a long time to dry. This can mean substantial delays to being able to redecorate and thus echoes the importance of making sure adequate business interruption cover is in place.