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What to do if severe weather hits your business premises

5-minute read

What to do if severe weather hits your business premises
Sam Bromley

Sam Bromley

5 November 2021

It’s common for the UK to experience severe weather, especially during the colder months. Whether it’s snow, heavy rain, or strong winds, stormy conditions can cause problems for your business and damage your premises.

Here’s our guide on how to prepare and do as much as you can to limit this damage, plus what to do when severe weather hits. We’ve broken it down by the type of weather:

  • Preparing for heavy rain

Preparing your business premises for a storm

Whether you run your business from an office, a storefront, or your own home, there are measures you can take to prepare for severe weather this winter.

Preparing for heavy rain

You can protect your customers by buying a slipmat to put in the doorway, helping to prevent slips and falls. It’s best to keep the floor dry and clean.

Other preparations involve checking your property to make sure it can withstand heavy rainfall. This includes:

  • checking guttering for any loose connections
  • making sure the guttering is free from leaves or moss (ask a local tradesperson to take a look if you’re unsure – only ever check this if it’s safe to do so)
  • checking the sealant around doors and windows for any cracks, as water can seep through these gaps and into the property (again, only check if it’s safe to do so)
  • making sure that there aren’t any obvious holes or gaps in the brickwork

Heavy rain can lead to flooding. If you’re in an area of the country that’s liable to flood, make sure you have sandbags available in case the forecast changes to localised flooding.

Sandbags are one type of flood defence product. You could also buy air bricks and pumps, which are widely available and could help keep your premises safe.

You can check whether the area you live in is at risk on the Property Care Association’s website.

Preparing for floods

If heavy rain can sometimes cause flooding in your area, then make sure that your equipment, stock, and everything else in your premises is protected from damage.

Take valuable items from the floor and move them upstairs, if you can, and move your stock from the floor to higher ground too.

Place sandbags and other flood defences outside on any opening to the property, from doorways to conservatories. Stack the sandbags one on top of the other (but usually no more than three layers in height, which is around 30 cm tall).

As mentioned above, check the sealant around doors and windows if it’s safe to do so, as water can seep through any gaps.

Preparing for high winds

If it’s safe for you to do so, do a visual inspection of the premises. It’s worth checking that your doors, windows, guttering, and roof are all in good working order (or asking your landlord to do so if you rent your business premises).

If you notice anything, get in touch with a local tradesperson. It can be handy to do periodical checks to give you enough time to sort any problems out, as you won’t always get much warning that severe weather is about to hit.

If you keep anything outside, such as tables and chairs, signs, or awnings, or stock in a shed for a home business, think about bringing these inside or securing them in place if there’s a storm warning in your area. This also helps prevent any injuries caused by loose items falling and moving around.

You could also buy some draught excluders to insulate the property and prevent doors and windows from rattling.

Fences and loose items outside often aren’t covered as part of an insurance policy.

Preparing for snow

A visual inspection of the premises (if it’s safe for you to do so) should highlight loose guttering or damage to the roof. When snow hits, the weight of it could cause existing problems to get worse.

The roof should be surveyed before cold weather arrives to make sure it’s ready and to identify any problems. It could be a good idea to arrange this if you own your premises, or speak to your landlord if you rent.

Snow and ice can be extremely hazardous for both you and your customers. Gritting pathways and car parks with rock salt before snowfall is often effective at keeping them clear and avoiding slips and falls. If you rent your business premises, find out whether this is your landlord’s responsibility or yours.

Even when pathways are already snowy or icy, rock salt can make them easier to grip and walk on.

Again, you may need to speak to your landlord, but pipes should be insulated and your boiler should be serviced to make sure they can withstand the freezing weather.

Finally, make sure you know where the stopcock is, in case you need to turn the water supply off.

Solving frozen pipes

If your boiler isn’t working and there’s been frost, check the condensate pipe outside. This is a pipe that’s close to the boiler and takes condensation from the boiler to a drain.

If the pipe is frozen try pouring hot water over the pipe. If you’d like to see a demonstration, there are how-to guides on YouTube that you can watch.

What insurance might I need?

Business buildings insurance is essential for anyone who owns their own premises, but even if you don’t, it’s worth knowing that business equipment and stock can also be insured.

Storms and severe weather can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage, so make sure you keep receipts for everything associated with your business in case you need to make a claim.

Steps to take if your business premises are hit by a storm

There are a number of measures you can take to minimise damage, but your first priority is keeping yourself and your staff (if you have them) safe.

  • you should make sure you have plans in place for your staff, knowing when you should send them home (or ask them to stay at home)
  • keep away from flood water, which can be deceptively powerful, and avoid any contact with water or electricity during lightning. If you have staff, send them home in advance where possible
  • if there’s a flood warning, you should fit your flood equipment as soon as you can, and if there's any kind of storm, make sure you turn off your water, gas, and electricity
  • if possible, move any equipment or stock you have onto the upper floors of your premises
  • make sure snow is cleared away from pathways and areas where your customers might walk, and lay salt on the floor

Contacting your insurer and making repairs

Only return to your business premises when it's safe to do so. Make sure you take pictures of all the damage to help support your claim. It’s best to get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible to let them know you’ve been hit by a storm, as a delay could affect your claim.

If your property has been damaged and you’re the owner, your business buildings insurance can cover the cost of the work that needs to be done. Otherwise, you should contact your landlord and let them know the situation.

Read more about making a claim. Sedgwick handle claims on behalf of Simply Business customers (unless otherwise stated in your policy document). You can contact them by phone, letter, or email – whatever works for you. We run through what to expect once you’ve made your claim.

For more tips and information on how to make a claim, visit our winter weather resource

Have you been affected by a storm? If you're a Simply Business customer and need to speak to Sedgwick, you can call 24/7 on 0333 207 0560.

Photograph 1: Alena/stock.adobe.com

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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