Reduce the impact of flooding at your venue

Flooding at your venue can be devastating. Adverse weather over the winter months can have a devastating impact on businesses, as it can often happen unexpectedly and leaving very little time to prepare. However, there are precautions you can take to prepare yourself.

Here’s our advice on how to better protect your nightclub, pub or late night establishment from flood or storm damage…

How to prepare for flooding

Consider if your venue could be at risk

If your venue is situated near a location known for flooding, you could be at risk again. However, in recent years, warnings have been issued to locations not normally prone to floods as at potential risk. Low lying areas, particularly those close to water such as rivers, streams, lakes or reservoirs, are likely to be at risk. You can check if your venue is at risk of flooding here.

For frequent updates on flood risk, check the Environment Agency or BBC Weather website.

Keep on top of your building maintenance

Make sure that drains and gutters are kept clear and in good working order. Don’t leave it until the bad weather hits. Your guttering should be checked by a trained professional at least every six months to make sure it’s kept clear.

There are a number of flood-proofing measures you could take, such as applying water-proofing sealant to exterior walls, sealing floors or replacing wooden floorboards using concrete with a damp-proof membrane. You can also buy automatic flood-proof air bricks, or covers that fit over air bricks when flooding is expected.

If you think flooding is inevitable, seal the soil drainage to stop any water from getting into the buildings drainage system, thus preventing contaminated water from entering the building. We also recommend fitting a temporary toiler pan seal to prevent the flood water coming back up the toilets. If you want a more long-term solution, you could fit non-return valves to drains and water inlet and outlet pipes, preventing wastewater from flowing back into your property.

Get your sandbags and barriers ready

Make sure you’ve bought sandbags well in advance of the expected rain so they’re ready to be installed at your venue’s doorways if flooding is on its way. Contact your local Environment Agency if you need to know where to get your sandbags or other protective measures.

Turn off electricity

Turn off any electric at your venue if flooding is predicted. Failing to do so can cause immense damage and increase the cost of repairs significantly. You should also close off flow valves.

Moving equipment and carpets

If you know flooding is incoming, you should try to move all expensive equipment to a higher floor of your venue, or move heavier equipment onto plinths for elevation. This will help you, after the event, to open faster as there’ll be less damage to your venue and you’ll also be able to clean up quicker.

It’s also worth taking up carpets and moving them to a higher floor to minimise damage and allow for a faster clean-up too.

If you have any outdoor equipment or external storage, make sure these are moved or secured to prevent them causing any damage.

Your important documents should be kept in a watertight plastic bag or container and kept on a higher floor, or away from the premises altogether.

Route the water flow

If your venue has a basement, make sure it’s kept clear if bad weather is on its way. This allows you to route the water flow to the basement and then actively pump the water out. Far better to flood an empty basement than replace damage to the ground floor of your club, bar or restaurant.

Keep a record

It’s always a good idea to document your preventative measures. This will help prove you tried to minimise damage where possible.

Get prepared for the clean-up

Have a drying company on standby, so you can start the drying process as soon as possible. They’ll set up industrial dehumidifiers to avoid permanent damage.

What should you do if you’ve been affected by flooding?

Don’t throw anything away

Keep copies of all letters, emails and faxes you send and receive. Once you can enter your venue safely, you should not remove or replace any items (even if they’re damaged) without prior approval from the insurance company. There is a slight exception… if you need to throw away contaminated food or perishable goods then you should do – just make a note of anything you throw away (particularly if this is covered by your insurance).

Gather evidence

Take photographs and video footage of any and all damage to your property, including photographic evidence of all equipment (such as machines and other goods covered by your policy).

You should also record every detail of the flood damage once you can safely enter your venue, making notes about every item that is affected and the extent of the damage. You should mark the height of flood water on the wall with a permanent market in every affected room too.

Arrange emergency repairs

You may want to hire an external company to work on emergency repairs straight away, such as fixing electrical fittings. It’s important to keep receipts of all emergency repair work you have done.

You should keep a detailed record of all correspondence with anyone involved in the clear-up or repairs. Note down who you spoke to, the date of the call or message, the time you made or received any messages, and what was agreed.

Where possible you should try to get an estimate for the full repair of your establishment, including a full breakdown of the costs involved.

Make sure you’re insured!

The affects of a flood or storm can be devastating, but even more so if the repairs have to come entirely out of your own pocket. Flooding is a type of damage that can sometimes be missing from standard insurance coverage wording, or come with a high excess. Make sure you clarify this with your insurer or broker if you have any concerns.

For a confidential review of your insurance policy, contact the NDML team. We’ll be happy to help.