As the weather begins to warm up a little, communities across Canada begin to experience the spring thaw. And, with that fluctuation between freezing and thawing, comes the risk of flooding.
Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in Canada, and with climate change, we could be seeing more. In fact, extreme weather events have become the new normal. We are now seeing summer storms that bring down record amounts of rain in very short periods of time.
According to a new report, flooding is the costliest natural disaster affecting Canadians and is the “lead driver in rising catastrophic insurable losses for the property and casualty insurance sector in Canada. From 2009 to 2018, insured losses averaged $1.8 billion annually, compared to $405 million annually from 1983 to2008.”
Here are five strategies to help prevent and mitigate any flood damage.
Have a Disaster Plan
Having a plan in place is critical as flood waters can quickly escalate. Whether or not your plan is designed for a specific property that may be situated in a flood zone, there are basic steps to follow when responding to flooding activity. No matter how solid your emergency plans are, they won’t do you any good if tenants and other property management personnel don’t know about them. Ensure that all staff members are well-trained on flood/emergency event procedures. Assign on-site staff members to help evacuate tenants with special needs.
Drill employees on how to respond to different emergencies, like floods or fires, and update them on any changes in procedures. Post evacuation routes throughout the building, and be proactive by including these maps, emergency numbers and tenant procedures in the lease packet during move-in and at the beginning of every year (or during yearly lease renewals). This also provides an opportunity to update any tenant emergency contact numbers.
Put a Communication Plan in Place
While it can be adapted during the event, have a company message in place prior to the emergency. This can include emergency contact information, protocols and alternative platforms for communication with residents where you will share critical information and updates – for example social media channels.
Have Contractors at the Ready
Any solid flood planning should address the aftermath of water damage. Partner now with contractors and have pre-arranged pricing, terms and conditions in place with electricians, plumbers, restoration and landscaping companies, etc. It never hurts to have a secondary list of suppliers. 24/7 access to recovery services is vital.
Perform Preventative Maintenance + Have Supplies
To mitigate water damage, patch any foundation cracks, clean drains regularly, and ensure the roof and all grates, gutters and downspouts are free of debris. Ensure that any sump pump, generators and wet vac are all in good working order. Consider retrofitting elevators with water sensors, to prevent them from descending to flooded levels. If a weather event is predicted, you will want to have reusable sandbags, fuel, portable lights, dehumidifiers, extension cords, fans and air dryers, air moisture sensors, batteries and a first aid kit.
Of course, HVAC and electrical systems, switch boxes and communication systems should be all secured and raised above flood levels.
Monitor the Weather
Property management and building security teams should monitor local weather predictions and alerts, and be aware of and weather warnings or advisories.
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