FLOOD - A flood is an abnormal progressive rise in the water level of streams or rivers which may result in overflowing. Floods in the Caribbean can often be caused by heavy rainfall, dam or levee failures, tsunamis, storm surges or burst water mains.
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Safety Factors

Forces of nature are beyond our control, but if we reduce our vulnerability, they do not have to become disasters. Take action to reduce your risk and loss.


Here are a few tips to help you protect your business in the event of a flood:

Before the Flood

When preparing your business for a flood you should develop a plan.

  1. Know the risks (is your business in a flood prone area or are transportation routes to your business severely affected by flooding). Work with the neighbouring community to ensure drains in the area are clear. This will minimize the effects of flooding. If you have not already found a location for the business avoid areas severely affected by flooding.
     
  2. Highlight your assets and their vulnerability.
    Some assets may include: documents, equipment/computers, building, staff and their families, supplies and other business requirements (customers, suppliers etc) etc.

    • Documents
      Make sure these are stored in a waterproof casing if they remain on site and keep them well above expected water levels. If you are aware that severe flooding may affect your location. Arrange for your important documents to be stored elsewhere. Create duplicate hard and soft copies of all your important information. Ensure all electronic information is backed-up regularly and stored in a waterproof container.
       
    • Equipment
      Store all electrical equipment (computers, faxes etc) above expected water levels, any equipment which is too large to store at higher ground should be relocated to safe area or new off site location. Protect shelves and display units by wrapping them in plastic. Remove all chemicals or hazardous materials that could cause injury. Unplug all electrical devices, and turn off electricity, gas and water supply flowing to equipment on your property.  Have your calls and faxes etc redirected to another area outside the impact zone. It only takes 12inches of water to send a vehicle floating, so move all company vehicles to higher ground.
       
    • Building
      Secure the building properly against robbing and looting which may follow after a disaster. Use plastic sheeting and sandbags (at doors and vulnerable areas) to prevent water from entering the building.
       
    • Staff and Families
      Identify employees who may need special assistance. Create an emergency contact list and ensure that all staff members are familiar with the numbers. Show staff where the emergency supply kits for the business will be stored. Train staff in administering first aid techniques. Remind staff to make their own at-home emergency supply kit.
       
    • Supplies
      Store these on high shelves away from possible water levels, or make arrangements to have these relocated off site.
       
    • Business Requirements
      If your business has to cease operation as a result of the flood, suppliers and customers should be made aware of this, using any and all channels necessary. Any deliveries to be made during this period should also be rescheduled. Review your insurance policy, find out about your coverage.
       
  3. Create relevant mitigation strategies

    • Develop a plan that allows your business to function from an alternate location.
       
    • If you are providing a service or product , ensure that your terms and agreements have provisions for delays in the event of a flood or disaster of any kind.
       
  4. Create an emergency kit. Ensure that there are enough supplies for every employee to last for at least 3 days.

    Here is an example of an emergency kit for the workplace.

    • First aid kit
       
    • Water (4 litres per person per day)
       
    • Canned and dry food and a manual can opener
       
    • Battery operated radio and extra batteries
       
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
       
    • Blanket
       
    • Water proof bags
       
    • Toiletries
       
  5. Have an evacuation plan (particularly useful if severe flash flooding suddenly affects your area). Make sure that staff members are shown where to meet or go. Plan evacuation routes which are unlikely to be affected by flooding.

During the Flood

During this time, it is important that the correct safety regulations be followed. Ensure that you pay attention to alerts and warnings from the media.

  • Keep communication lines open
     
  • Listen for media updates
     
  • Prepare for evacuation

After the Flood

Recover

  • Let customers know that you are back in business.
     
  • Use manual operation until computer systems are up and running.
     
  • If needed find a temporary worksite, should the previous one be unusable.
     
  • Assist staff in finding post stress counseling.

 

Do a damage assessment

Clean and disinfect building as needed and take video and photo footage of the damage which occurred. Contact your insurance agent/company.
 

Conduct repairs if needed
 

Conduct an analysis

Document factors which occurred and strategize on improvements should this situation arise again.
 

Electrocution is a popular cause of death during flooding, as electric current flows easily through water.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid this further disaster.

 

Maintain Electrical Safety

  • Turn off the water supply at the main.
     
  • Disable power at the main. If you did not do so before the flood, make sure that when you attempt this that you are not standing in water. Never touch electrical equipment or outlets if your body or the ground is wet. If the area is still flooded, have your utility company switch off the power at the meter
     
  • Keep power switched off until all equipment and switches/outlets have been inspected by a qualified electrician.
     
  • Keep away from downed power lines and electrical wires, and report these to the proper authorities
     
  • Look for electrical system damage: sparks, broken or frayed wires, smell of burning insulation.
     
  • Do not energize equipment that is, or has been, wet until it has been properly dried, cleaned, repaired or restored, and inspected.

Fire Prevention

  • Shut off gas at the main if you have not done so before the flood.
     
  • Have storage and piping systems containing flammable liquids inspected; repair leaks or damage as soon as possible.
     
  • Avoid using devices which spark or cigarettes in areas where you think there may be a gas leak.
     
  • After a flood, have an expert check to make sure that there are no leaks before you restore your gas supply.

Contaminated Floodwaters

Floodwaters are often contaminated with dangerous chemicals/substance (sewage, animal waste and carcasses, pesticides, etc.). After a flood dangerous substances may also develop, such as mold. Here are a few tips you can follow if you suspect that your area is contaminated.

  • Anything coming in contact with floodwater could become hazardous.
     
  • Wear protective clothing when entering areas affected by the flood. (boots, face mask, water proof covering etc.)
     
  • Get a tetanus vaccine.
     
  • Contacting your local fire department or hazardous materials team. Do not handle any unidentified substances.
     
  • Use soap/disinfectant and clean water to wash any items/body parts which have come in contact with flood water. Wash hands carefully, and use hand sanitizer if water is unavailable.
     
  • Follow the correct procedures if you come into contact with mold.
 

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