Flood Protection and Your Investment
You’ve worked hard to build your business, now it’s time to keep it protected. Whether you’re a tenant or a building owner, flood insurance can help protect your business’ finances from the unexpected. Keep these savvy tips in your back pocket and you’ll be ready for whatever the next flood season throws your way.
Flood Preparation and Early Warning
Preparing for a flood involves being ready on many levels, from doing what can be done to minimize the water damage to getting an emergency communication program in place. You don’t have to scramble to get everything protected if you plan ahead, and you may very well save your business from a critical loss with a little planning and preparation.
Get in the know. Many businesses are not fully prepared for a flood, and they’re left with little time to react when a flash flood warning goes into effect. Being ready for a flood starts with looking at a flood map of your region. If you’re looking for a new location, this is a great first move also. Becoming educated about flood risks will help you build a policy that fits your region, and you’ll be able to take extra precautions if floods are frequent in your area. Here are a few things to think about as you prepare for the rising water:
Electricians. Hire a licensed electrician to raise electrical switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring at least 12 inches above the 100-year-flood levels.
Plumbers. Hire a licensed plumber to install an interior or exterior backflow valve to prevent sewage from backing up, and make sure you install a battery-operated backup sump pump. When your plumber is onsite, have them scope your main waste line out to take care of any blockages or issues. The up-front costs can easily pay for themselves when trouble strikes.
Landscaping. Take a look at the way the ground slopes around your building, making sure that grading directs water away. If it doesn’t, hire a contractor to change that grade.
Storage. Protect your valuable items from being destroyed by a flood by storing them on upper floors or high shelves.
Weather Monitoring Systems. Install a weather app on your phone. Many will give you real-time warnings that inform you of predicted flood events and can give you time to make final preparations before the water arrives.
Smart Sensors. Install a smart flood sensor in a low, flood-prone area of your establishment. It can inform you of water when it’s detected. These are important because they’ll notify you if a pipe bursts or if there is flooding that isn’t the result of the weather, like water backing up from a drain.
Fuel Tanks. Anchor fuel tanks. They’re more prone to leaking their contents if they’re not securely tied down.
Create Your Plan. Lastly, have a plan in place. Make a list of everything that will need to be moved and create a contact list of people that can be on site quickly to help move these items. Create an emergency contact list on social media to stay connected if phone and cell networks are down.
Managing the Crisis
Follow your flood plan. If a flood is predicted in your area, find your flood plan and get moving on it. Flash flood and general flood warnings should be taken seriously. Make an effort to save what can be saved by recruiting extra hands to get business essentials and important records moved to a safe location.
Wastewater lines. Inspect and clean your drains, gutters and downspouts. Be certain that rainwater is flowing away from the building. Use extension tubes if necessary to ensure that it won’t pool in low-lying areas.
Sump pumps and drains. Make sure they’re working properly. Take a quick look at the physical condition of the sump pump. Be sure that the float is moving freely and reacts to movement by engaging the pump. Drain caps should be clear of debris that could potentially block them.
Relocate flood prone items. Move carpets, furniture and electronics off the floor and away from lower levels. If business vehicles are at risk, get them to higher ground.
Post-Flood Recovery and Claim Filing
Get the go-ahead first. Wait for the all clear from local authorities to verify that it’s safe to return to your business area. High bacteria counts, electrocution risks and chemical spills are only some of the reasons that may prevent you from returning. Try to stay dry and keep rugged boots with you in case you need to wade through water to do your work.
Document everything. A good place to start is with photographing and documenting items and building sections that were affected by the flood. And remember to contact your insurance agent as soon as you know you’ll be filing a claim. If you’re with American Family Insurance, you can conveniently file your claim online. Soon after, an agent will be in touch to go over the next steps. In the meantime, take care of a little housekeeping.
Get the water out. Remove standing water from inside the building, and rent a pump to get standing water out of other areas.
Salvage and discard. When it is safe, disconnect all electronics and move them to a dry location. Document and store items that you will claim separately from the things that weren’t destroyed by the flood. Mold and mildew can set in quickly after a flood, so make sure you remove water damaged materials immediately. Activate your team of helpers and get them on site to remove all items that have been water damaged. By acting quickly, you may reduce the risk of mold and bacteria build up.
When preparing for flood season, your American Family Insurance agent can help you stay protected. Remember, most home and business insurance policies do not have flood protection built in. You’ve invested so much turning your passion into a business — help keep it that way with a policy that that’s ready for anything.