Will your school flood? Assessing the risk

  • Flood damage can be shocking and can cause significant disruption to teaching
  • Knowing how to assess your schools risk of flooding is important
  • Preparing with a major incident response plan will help minimise the impact of a flood.

As we’ve seen over the past few months the risk from flooding is one being faced by several schools in the UK. Whether from rain and storms, or from more unpredictable surface water, floods can cause large scale damage, stress and disruption for schools. 

In a flooding crisis, the government advises that schools should be kept open for as many pupils as possible, unless there is a risk of injury.

The results of flooding can be shocking – causing significant disruption to pupils and teachers, as well as long-term damage to buildings forcing schools to close, sometimes for many months.

In the past, flooding was perceived to be less of an issue for schools, however weather patterns have changed and more establishments are becoming vulnerable to climate problems. December 2015 was recorded as the wettest month ever on record in the UK, with almost double the amount of rain fall than average, according to data released by the Met Office.

Assessing your flood risk

There are a number of complex factors that can impact your degree of flood risk, and the vulnerability of your school. Knowing how to assess your risk of flooding is very important.

Some indicators of risk include whether:

  • Your school is near the sea, river or stream
  • Your school is in a valley, or at the bottom of a hill where floodwater could collect
  • Neighbouring properties drains have overflowed or been blocked recently.

Whether and to what extent flood protection measures are necessary will depend on the degree of flood risk, and the vulnerability of your property and its occupants.

As a minimum you should investigate the degree of risk to your property using the Environment Agency’s flood map. If your property lies within a blue shaded area the flood map will show the likelihood of flooding as ‘low risk’, ‘moderate risk’ or ‘significant risk’. If your property does not lie in a blue shaded area, it is very important to note that this does not mean there is no flood risk. There may still be risk of flooding from surface or ground water or a raised body of water not shown on the Environment Agency’s flood map.

Advance planning

There is no substitute for being prepared. Having a major incident response plan and the support from a risk and insurance partner with the right capabilities is fundamental in helping to manage the effects of flooding.

Flood warnings should act as a vital trigger to this plan. Warnings will vary in severity and organisations need to know how they will react to each scenario.

Anticipating the situation, knowing the actions to be taken, and specifying who will undertake them, will ensure a coordinated and effective response.

Supporting our customers

During the recent floods in Cumbria, Zurich Municipal deployed intensive drying techniques that work much faster than standard dehumidifiers. As a result repairs were less disruptive and the education establishments affected by the floods were re-instated much quicker – minimising the impact on students and teaching.