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Coping With Mother Nature

farm house insurance providers, Lycetts, detail how to prepare for, and then recover from, numerous disasters which can all prove very problematic:

Drought

Throughout the UK, a lot of water is used. In fact, Water UK states that over 17 billion litres of water is delivered to the nation’s mains water supply per day. This water will cater for more than 60 million consumers, with 150 litres used by each of us on a daily basis on average.

Of course, whether there is rain or not, this water will go into the UK’s mains water supply. Therefore, a drought will officially be declared in the country if we experience 15 days of minimal wet weather — under 0.2mm of rain. In the UK, we tend to witness a drought once every five to ten years.

How to prepare

A top tip to help us prepare for a drought is to make water conservation practices a normal part of your everyday life. That way, you will be familiar with using less water in the scenario that water limitation measures are brought in across the country.

Bearing this in mind, you should look to use spare water on indoor plants, or on a suitable outdoor area of your workplace instead of simply pouring it down the drain once you’ve used it. An instant hot water heater should be installed onto your sink too, while dripping faucets should be repaired by replacing the water — for this last point, bear in mind that a single drip per second will result in 2,700 gallons of water being wasted per year!

You should look to plant both native and drought-tolerant shrubs, trees, grass and ground covers across your land. This is because they will adapt to the local climate and not need too much water once established; not to mention often surviving a sustained dry period without watering. Mulch should also be used to retain moisture in the soil, with the added benefit being that mulch controls weeds which compete with other plants for water.

How to recover

Following a drought, most of your daily routine will quickly adjust back to normal. Any hosepipe bans which were enforced will be swiftly lifted, for instance, so that you can go back to cleaning the exterior of your business and watering plants as normal. Any restrictions on water use will be eased too, though it’s still best to keep up the water conservation practices advised above as a way of life moving forwards.

However, your lawn may take longer to adjust back to normal. If it’s being subjected to a drought for a long period, turf grasses may have turned brown and stopped growing completely. While most of the lawn will often recover in time with renewed rainfall, you should look to carry out renovation and repair work in the autumn for particularly problematic areas. Over-seed areas which are sparsely-grassed — this guide by the RHS will help — and refrain from using lawn weed killers on turf that has been affected by drought throughout the autumn.

The UK’s post-drought recovery is also monitored by the Environment Agency. In its Drought response: our framework for England report, the organisation states: “Once a drought recedes, it’s important to continue environmental monitoring to assess recovery of sites and identify any long-term environmental damage. Our area analysis and reporting teams are responsible for establishing and carrying out a drought recovery monitoring programme. Drought monitoring will normally continue until the ecology has recovered to normal conditions.”

Flooding

An increasingly concerning problem for the UK in recent years has been flooding. Between November 2015 and January 2016, for instance, the UK experienced the most ever rainfall for that date period. Not too earlier than that, the wettest winter on record for the UK was recorded during the winter of 2013/14.

How to prepare

Thankfully, there should be plenty of time to prepare for any eventual flood because there will be plenty of updates on local radio and TV news programmes. This page of GOV.UK should also be monitored, as it informs you if your area is either at an immediate risk of flooding, at risk anytime in the next five days or is seen to be a long-term risk area.

If there’s a high possibility that flooding will hit where you are, then you should prepare an emergency kit. There are different ones for when you’re at a facility, on the move, or in your car, which Red Cross details here. You should also purchase some sand and sandbags in good time — these are likely to be in high demand once a flood strikes.

If it’s in your best interests to vacate your property and business until the threat has passed, be sure to switch off any mains power to avoid risks of electrocution from floodwater. Also, shut and lock every window and door to protect your property and also to give an extra barrier from floodwater getting inside. Take up-to-date photographs around the interior of your workplace too, as they may prove very useful in the event you need to make an insurance claim.

How to recover

Once your property has been flooded, dispose any food products as floodwater is at risk of being contaminated with sewage. Until your water supplies company gives your tap water the all clear, you should only boil tap water or use bottled water. Your water supplies company should be contacted if your tap water’s colour, smell or taste has changed as well. Gas or electrical items should also not be switched on until they have been checked by a qualified technician, as they may have got wet during a flood.

Make sure you contact your insurance company at the earliest possible opportunity following flooding. Make sure to take photographs ahead of starting any cleaning up too — which can be coupled with the photos taken when preparing for a flood as a before and after snapshot — and only discard any items once it’s been cleared by your insurer.

Storms

In Britain, we regularly have storms. Between September 12th,2017 and January 24th, 2018 alone, there were nine named storms across the UK. Many people are sure to still have the ‘Beast from the East’ fresh in their minds too, where a mixture of blizzards, drifting snow, strong winds and bitterly cold temperatures cause huge problems and resulted in the Met Office issuing a rare red weather warning — the organisation’s most severe alert.

How to prepare

If there’s been a storm warning issued in your location, begin with the basics. Any rubbish bins and exterior furniture should be moved indoors — perhaps in a garage or underground section of your workplace facilities — so that they are not able to cause damage to cars or surrounding property if they are blown over when a storm hits. On the topic of cars, you should move your vehicle into a garage or somewhere that is sheltered too, so that they can’t receive damage from flying debris.

If you have tall structures or trees nearby, try to ensure they won’t be blown over once the bad weather arrives. If you are concerned, get in touch with your local authority, as leaving the problem may result in it damaging your property or putting people in danger. Trees and shrubs can also be trimmed to make them more wind-resistant as well.

It’s important to take the appropriate amount of time to know certain aspects of your business’ surroundings too. Checking the elevation level of an area will let you know if it’s prone to floods, for instance, while being aware of nearby dams and levees will allow you to assess whether these could cause a hazard to you during a storm.

How to recover

Do not head outdoors to assess any potential damage until you are positive that the stormy weather has passed. Even when it is safe to go outside and begin the storm clean-up process, be extra vigilant, as the wet and windy weather may have caused more damage than you can see. Trees and tall structures may now be unsafe, for example, so keep your distance until they can be accessed.

If you find there are trees that have been blown over, contact your local council to remove them instead of trying to move them yourself. Photos and notes should also be taken of any damage that has been caused to your business from the storm, with this being followed up by a phone call to your insurer to make them aware of all issues.

Severe gales

For gales to be officially recognised, the wind needs to reach between 32 and 63 miles per hour. However, the UK has been subjected to much more powerful gusts of wind over the years. On March 20th, 1986, for example, a gust of 173mph was recorded at the Cairngorm Summit. It’s not just at higher levels where strong winds cause problems though; a gust of 142mph was recorded at Fraserburgh, in Aberdeenshire, on February 13th, 1989, wind speed of 124mph was marked at Kilkeel in County Down on January 12th, 1974 and winds of 118mph were felt at Gwennap Head, in Cornwall, on December 15th, 1979.

How to prepare

It’s obvious that any loose objects should be safely secured prior to the winds picking up. Crumbling brickwork and broken fences should also be tended to before severe gales arrive, as waiting until after the wind has eased could result in you having to fork out more money for the repairs — not to mention the issues posing risks to your property and workers based there while the gales are blowing fiercely.

Your workplace’s roof should be thoroughly inspected too as this is among the most exposed parts of the building. Any mould, sagging material, loose sheathing, areas which are leaking, and rusted nails should be reported to a specialist for them to rectify ahead of the problematic weather.

How to recover

Only once the wind speeds have eased should you take the time to look around your workplace — both indoors and around its exterior — to search for any potential damage caused by the severe weather. Attempt to make your facilities as safe as possible again too, though it’s best to leave the complicated repairs to the experts. When inspecting your property, also be on the lookout for any fallen cables, loose masonry and weakened trees, keeping your distance if any of these are identified.

It’s probable that your business would have lost its electric connection due to the severe gales. Don’t attempt to restore power yourself, but instead get in touch with your electricity supplier to make them aware of the issue and to get details about when the power will likely be restored.

It may be wise to contact your local council as they’ll continue to check any vulnerable buildings that are undergoing extensive structural work and try to remove debris that has been found on highways, and close roads (where necessary) after severe weather has travelled across a region.

Sources:

https://www.water.org.uk/consumers/drought

https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/3849208/drought-hosepipe-ban-britain-cape-town/

https://www.ready.gov/drought

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=417

https://nerc.ukri.org/planetearth/stories/1849/

https://www.redcross.org.uk/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/how-to-prepare-for-floods-and-flooding

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/barometer/uk-storm-centre

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24693145

http://evaq8.co.uk/Emergency-Preparedness-Storm-how-to-prepare-for-a-storm.html

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/top10facts/546895/Top-10-facts-about-wind

http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/house-home/home-hacks/gale-force-winds-how-to-protect-your-home-from-severe-weather-11364015728647

https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/council/emergencies/preparing-emergencies/be-prepared-severe-gales