Flood Preparedness Guide

Floods around the world are both frequent and costly and being prepared can dramatically change the outcome. Are you prepared? Use this guide to help you understand your flood risks and to develop plans for mitigating flood damage.

Understand the flood exposure:

  • Understand the flood threat (riverine, stream, coastal, levee, surface water, etc.)
  • Understand the flood warning time (flash flood, snow melt and prolonged rain, hurricane, etc.)
  • Understand depth of flood waters expected (flood depths vs. building finished floor elevations, flood depths vs. building entry point levels, etc.)
  • Understand flood water entry points (sewer/drain lines, doorways, utility penetrations, etc.)
  • Understand the anticipated flood duration (1 day, 3 days, etc.)
  • Understand the impact of flood to facility (structural, equipment, stock, operations, egress, ingress, etc.)

Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. A car can easily be carried away by just over half a meter of rushing water. Hurricanes, winter storms and snowmelt are common and often overlooked causes of flooding.

Establish flood preparedness actions:

  • Establish flood warning/monitoring system based on governmental sites, weather forecasts, etc.
  • Formally designate staff to initiate pre-flood and post-flood recovery actions.
  • Establish a list of contractors to aid in flood preparedness and recovery. Place contractors on alert.
  • Install physical flood protection and/or sandbagging where needed (flood barriers, flood doors, flood gates, sand bags, etc.). Stockpile in advance if necessary.
  • Install sump pumps and test their operation regularly.
  • Identify and relocate critical equipment, documents, drawings, files, stock and supplies to above anticipated flood levels.
  • Secure and/or relocate yard equipment and storage.
  • Develop procedures for safe shutdown of utilities and operations (electricity, gas, flammable liquids operations, etc.)
  • Install check valves and/or close valves where flood water backflow potential exists.
  • Maintain an adequate inventory of materials such as mops, brooms, squeegees, barriers, sand bags, portable generators, pumps, etc.
  • Develop plans for protecting and maintaining fire protection systems in service.
  • Develop business continuity plans for quickly resuming operations after a flood including sourcing restoration / remediation companies.

Develop Post-flood Procedures and Precautions

  • Notify relevant contractors involved with resuming building operations, cleanup, repairs, etc. (electrical, sprinkler, fire alarm, gas, machinery/equipment, HVAC, general contractor, etc.)
  • Perform an assessment of facility to ensure structural integrity and to determine adequate restoration plans.
  • Ensure fire protection is functional and in service (fire pumps, automatic sprinklers, fire alarms and security systems). Contact fire contractor if required.
  • Activate a Fire Protection Impairment Permit if required. Follow all guidance including implementing a designated fire-watch in all impaired areas.
  • Ensure a smoking ban is in place throughout the facility.
  • Stay aware of potential site hazards including live electrical wires, broken glass and sharp metals, leaking fuel gases or flammable liquids, damaged building features or contents that could shift or collapse.
  • Have qualified personnel thoroughly check all utility systems and hazardous processes before returning them to service.
  • Restore emergency power (facility generators or portable generators) since public utilities could be unavailable for days/weeks.
  • If repairs that require welding, cutting or grinding are needed, ensure a Hot Work Permit is utilised, including all safety guidance and a fire- watch.
  • Commence cleanup, such as removing flood debris, water pumping and dehumidifying damp areas, building materials, etc.
  • Have all equipment and utilities dried, dehumidified and cleaned immediately to prevent further damage or corrosion.

Preparing for a flood before the event occurs can dramatically decrease the amount of flood damage. Those who are prepared with defined plans, adequate equipment and trained employees have a much better chance of rapidly restoring business operations. Are you prepared?

Create a Flood Emergency Response Plan (FERP)

  • Formalize the pre-flood and post-flood procedures and precautions into a written FERP.
  • Form a flood response team, assign a leader and assign specific tasks to members of the team.
  • Give authorization for the flood response team to initiate equipment or process shutdowns.
  • Provide external/internal flood related training as required.
  • Conduct desktop drills to practice the execution of the plan.
  • Review the FERP every year and adjust/update as needed.

Flood and other natural hazards exposure profiles for any location worldwide are available through Swiss Re's CatNet® tool.

Learn more about our Risk Engineering Services.

​Windstorm Preparedness Guide