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Disaster Preparedness

How to Prepare Your Business for a Flood

If a flood watch or warning is issued near you, you may not have much time to react. If you know that floods are possible in your area, this guide can help you prepare your company to safely and effectively respond.

Write a game plan for how your company will react.

Before a flood, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)  recommends you come up with an emergency plan for your company.

  • Create a team that plans for disasters. The people on it should be from multiple departments in your business, so they can share different perspectives. 
  • Conduct a vulnerability analysis to find out how prepared you are to respond to a severe weather event. 
  • Develop and put an emergency plan in place that you can share with your employees. This should include information like your facility’s emergency management policy, and how to notify first responders if you need their help. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers step-by-step guidance for creating an emergency response plan.   

Get the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for your employees. 

Floods can sometimes cause severe damage, especially if they’re the result of a hurricane or tsunami. You might need to adapt your PPE depending on the hazards you encounter, according to NIOSH. Here’s a checklist for general flood PPE that can help while you’re on the job. 

  • Hard hats
  • Goggles (which create a tight seal on the face) 
  • Safety glasses (which allow air around the eyes)
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank)
  • Hearing protection from equipment

Reach out to your local Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) office if you have additional questions. 

Understand the risks of flood clean-up. 

Before you get to work, make sure you understand some of the hazards you might encounter on the job. These include but aren’t limited to: 

  • Air quality. Flooding can bring allergens and chemicals into the water and air. Take precautions to limit exposure if your team works in or near the water.  
  • Mold and fungi. Some fungi and mold can cause health problems when inhaled. Try to avoid breathing particles or dust, or consider using an N-95 mask to lower the risk.  
  • Electrical hazards. Stay safe from electric burns and shocks. Make sure your team is educated on electrical safety and how to avoid an accident.  

Conduct a pre-exposure medical screening. 

If the work you do is particularly intense or dangerous, consider having a medical professional screen your team before they head out.  

  • This helps evaluate whether or not they can handle the physical and emotional demands of the work.
  • During the exam, they can get relevant vaccines or booster shots.
  • This screening can also test whether your team members know how to use PPE in the proper way. 

See a full list of hazards and how you should respond here.

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