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Dealing with disaster

The equipment that will ensure this risk is dealt with quickly must always be in good working order, with staff reminded of procedure. On forecourts, for example, separators must be regularly cleaned and serviced and bunding for tanks should be checked and repaired to ensure its integrity. When things are going well, it can be easy to become complacent, but like any equipment that keeps your business running, planned maintenance is essential. Weekly security checks for IT, fire alarms and safety systems are key, all data should be backed-up.

After an incident, proper clean-up, to restore a site back to its original state, protect essential equipment and the environment, will minimise the damage caused. Reacting as quickly as possible is vital – businesses with a high spill risk, for example, should make sure suitable spill kits are on site to act as a first line of defence against pollution.

Whatever you believe the cause to be; El Nino, climate change, or just a freak of nature, the UK is no longer the home of moderate weather. Flooding must become part of our psyche, something we learn to deal with better. Flood defences need to improve, buildings must be modified and built to cope with water ingress and any one affected by flooding, must be prepared.

Planning for disaster of any kind provides a first-line of defence, quick and proper reactions that will minimise damage, prevent danger to life and reduce periods of downtime. Complacency can lead to catastrophe.

Adler & Allan spent December and January helping businesses in the North of England and Scotland deal with and clean-up the flood waters. Clients included office owners, breweries, forecourts and retail outlets, as well as donating Flood Limitation Bags, a synthetic alternative to sand bags, to the Scottish Flood Forum, a charitable organisation which supports communities affected by, and at risk of flooding.

Adler & Allan is a member of BERG (Business Emergency Resilience Group) and Mark Calvert, A&A’s MD, is on the BERG Leadership Team. BERG has recently been set up by HRH Prince Charles to help SMEs deal with disaster, such as flooding, cyber-attack and civil unrest.


flood_signThere are lots of free tools available to help you see problems coming and therefore plan for them. Sign up for your environment agency flood alerts, download the British Red Cross Emergency app and for your IT infrastructure, make use of Cross Sector Safety and Security Horizon scanning.

Assess the impact of the disaster, are people at risk? Does access to your site need to be prevented? What equipment/services are at risk – fuel, electricity, water, gas, IT or transport networks?

Make sure you have a contact list of support for emergencies. Apart from the emergency services, this could include IT support, your local council, the Environment Agency and organisations.

Human safety is the first priority, where people are at risk they must be evacuated quickly. Make sure you have a signing in and out policy so you know who’s in your building.

For flooding in particular, save essential equipment by moving it, up high and out of the way. If you know water’s coming, make this your first priority. A checklist of passwords, access codes and keys, will mean your business can get back up and running again quickly.

Use social media to communicate to customers. Let them know your business is currently out of action – by using social media, you can keep them updated and maintain relationships. Social media can also help you find out about issues affecting your area.

About Sarah OBeirne


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