John Lysy, a Senior Loss Control Consultant in our New Hampshire Branch, authored, "Rising Water Contingency Plans" for Flood Safety Awareness Week.
March 15-19, 2010, is Flood Safety Awareness Week.
(March 20, 2010) - Flood is the most common natural disaster in the United States, and the risk appears to be increasing in recent decades. Many northeastern companies have been damaged or significantly impacted in the past few years. The coming months, April to September, are some of the most flood prone months. While it may be difficult to change or protect fixed structures, a small amount of planning and preparation can help protect your records, inventory, mobile equipment and vehicles.
A good contingency plan is recommended where there is potential for flood or severe rising water. Many lumberyards are located near bodies of water, but frozen ground, snow thaw, surrounding development, or prolonged rain can also result in rising water and flood conditions.
In many cases, locations subject to the threat of rising water have already experienced some degree of flooding in the past. Based on this prior history, early warning signs of water accumulation need to be observed, and a contingency plan put into action as early as possible.
However, floods can occur in expected and also unexpected locations. To keep the impact of floods as limited as possible, avoid storing stock and concentrating items of value, by not parking, grouping or clustering vehicles and equipment in small areas, particularly near water, or in low lying areas.
A basic contingency plan is very simple to put together and should include such things as records, inventory, and vehicles and equipment being stored, parked, or moved to, a safe predetermined place where they are not subject to rising waters. Remember that records should be backed up at least daily on computer systems and kept off site, preferably at a location where the rising waters are not a problem.
The safe area may be a different portion of your land, or an agreed upon lot in a different place. It is advisable to have a prior agreement with other local businesses that have a safe parking area. Avoid crossing streams or using lots which might remain cut-off from your business while waiting for water t o recede. The c o n t ingency plan must also stress care and safety in the movement of vehicles, to not endanger the vehicle or operator or trade water danger for an accident.
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. Most flood-related deaths and injuries could be avoided if people who come upon areas covered with water followed this simple advice. Remember:
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
- A foot of water will float many vehicles.
- Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV's) and pick-ups.
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards is one of the best ways to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather and river information direct from nearby NWS offices. Also, the NWS web page provides forecasts and warnings, and identifies
where flooding is occurring.
You may wish to assemble a list of qualified employees, along with their telephone, cell phone and pager numbers, so that sufficient operators and drivers may be reached, in case the plan needs to be enacted after hours. Each driver should arrive ready to move prescribed inventory and vehicles to a safe location.
Critical records, highly valued stock and critical vehicles should be scheduled to be moved first, lowering the potential of loss followed by the balance of the equipment in descending order of value and importance.
Practice sessions can ensure your plan will work, and it can also reveal unexpected glitches as well as determine the amount of time needed to implement the plan.
Components of a Rising Water Contingency Plan:
- Perform a good "What If" analysis to determine what needs to be covered in the plan based on what can happen as a result of a high water or flooding incident.
- Use the analysis to outline the needed reactions that will be built into your plan.
- Commit your plan to writing so that it can be used to train personnel.
- Keep or move stock and vehicles out of low-lying areas.
- Find out about any local community safety plans: Contact your local emergency management agency. Ask if they have an Emergency Preparedness Plans. Are there any local warning systems?
- Don't concentrate, group or cluster vehicles and equipment in one area, especially if the area is susceptible to rising water (or collapse, fire or other perils).
- Clean out parking lot drains and outlets each spring.
- Contact local authorities, if street storm sewers or drains are sluggish or not clear.
- Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio that has a battery back-up, a Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) feature, which automatically alerts you when a Watch or Warning is issued for your county or parish, and one that can receive all seven NOAA Weather Radio frequencies.
- Develop a list of drivers' emergency contact numbers and a phone tree.
- Move equipment away from water sources.
- Don't cross or drive through flood waters.
- Obtain sandbags for additional protection.
- Practice the plan and document observations from the exercise.
- Modify the plan as needed to ensure effectiveness.
According to The National Weather Service, Americans live in the most severe weather-prone country on Earth. You can reduce your risk, by evaluating your proximity to water, runoff and rising water sources, and planning an appropriate course of action.
Acadia Insurance Company Policyholders may contact their Loss Control Representative for additional loss prevention assistance.
For more information on Acadia's Loss Control Unit, please contact John Lysy at 603-656-1306 or visit www.acadiainsurance.com.
John Lysy | Sr. Loss Control Representative, Acadia Insurance
P: 603-656-1306 E: