Our QCS expert Barry Price provides some timely tips on what care providers can do to ensure their premises are safe after the recent storms.
As storm Franklin continues to tear across the UK, the damage is already being felt. Yorkshire has almost 90 flood warnings and there are another 10 alerts in Lincolnshire.
Here at QCS we have created and shared with you lots of information about being prepared for bad weather, monitoring weather alerts, reviewing and checking your business continuity plans. But what about the morning after?
The recent storm, winds, rain and in some areas flooding can all have the potential to cause damage to your service, your community and your clients’ properties. Assessing your service is vital to ensure any damage is quickly rectified to prevent further destruction or possible injury.
Taking steps to assess for damage enables you to quickly make plans for repairs and any other actions you may need to take.
Top Tips for your Post Storm Assessment
Even if you think the storm passed your service by with no damage you should not be complacent here and assume everything is OK.
If you were in an official Met Office warning area, we would recommend carrying out a survey/assessment of your property. More importantly, document that you have done so and what you find (even if nothing) and any actions you have taken to resolve any identified issues.
In some cases, you may need to notify your regulator if you have had substantial damage.
Now we know you are busy but in this heavily regulated and litigation fuelled world we find ourselves in, right now being able to evidence your actions no matter how small may save you further pain and money down the line.
Tip One: Is it safe to carry out a survey of your property?
- You should only carry out an assessment if the risks have passed
- Never place yourself or anyone else at risk – if in doubt call someone out
- It is always worth carrying out an assessment with another person as not only may they see something you miss, you can also keep an eye on each other’s safety
- Before checking the property, you should always walk around it first to make sure that the area is safe and stable for you to do so. Look up as well as all around you. There may be things at risk of falling as well as already on the ground
- You may come across recognisable parts of yours or a neighbouring property on the ground (gazebos, ornamental parts of a building, signage) which may indicate where you need to pay particular attention
Tip Two: Check the roof
- Are there any visible missing or obviously displaced roof or ridge tiles? Missing or lose tiles can let water and wind in as well as let heat out
- If you have one, does the chimney stack look stable? If it has any flashing that looks lose, lifted or dented, this may be a sign of movement
- Are aerials and satellite dishes secure?
- Is there any debris on the roof that may have been brought in by the wind? It does not matter how small as it could indicate damage underneath
- Are there any visible dips in the roof? There may not be any signs of damage externally other than a dip but that could indicate internal damage with the roof timbers and structure
- If it is safe to do so arrange clearing up any debris
Tip Three: Guttering and down drainpipes
- A key area that is easy to check are your guttering and down pipes. Are they all still intact? Stand to the side of any down pipes and see if you can see if they have moved away from the wall. Have any gaps formed where they may have come lose?
- Are any guttering or pieces of pipe missing, cracked or visibly damaged?
- Is there any debris that you can see that has been caught in guttering that could create a block or additional weight issues putting pressure on brackets etc.?
- If you have any manhole/drain covers on your property check these are still in place. No signs of movement or they are cracked from water moving them
- General drains are free from blocked debris
Tip Four: Fascia boards and soffits
- While you are assessing the guttering you should also make a visual check of the fascia boards and soffits. If they are wooden, they may have visible cracks or splits, plastic or UPVC versions may have peeled away and be flapping
- Are there any missing?
- Although not always an easy thing to check from a distance, any key issues should be easy to see
Tip Five: Windows and doors
- Even if you have broken windows, you should carry out a window survey just to be sure
- For the best survey you should carry out an internal and external inspection
- Viewing externally will enable you to have a good look to see if there are any signs of movement, slippage or damage to seals and fittings. Look to see if any gaps have formed underneath or around where window or doors have been fitted or previously repaired
- Internally, inspection allows you to have a much closer look the same as you would do externally but also look for small fine cracking, loose glass, sealant moving or lost, gaps, water on the sill, window restrains intact and working, is the window or door frame itself or wall around it damaged?
Tip Six: Signs of water damage
- You may be able to see signs of water damage around doors and windows, the same can be said for bedrooms, rooms on top floors or extensions. Look around the top corners to see if there are any signs of water from the roof spaces
- Again, when doing your checks, you should also be looking at ceilings and floors to see if there are any signs of water damage, such as damp patches, wallpaper and painted areas bubbling and possibly peeling away
Tip Seven: Exterior walls
- Heavy rain on the outside walls or roof can run into fine gaps, cracks, crevices or where cement in the brick work has come away. Signs of water damage can be seen quite clearly but on the outside if it has been really wet can take a few days to show. So, when walls start to dry out, it may be worth scheduling a follow up check
- More relevant if you are in an area with lots of trees, look out for any garden furniture that has been thrown about or any large debris that has appeared in your gardens where it should not be
- Look for damage to walls such as dents, holes, chipped paint, green marks or scrapings that could indicate the building has been hit by a tree or branch etc. If you do find any damage it may be worth checking the inside corresponding wall
Tip Eight: Garages, outbuildings and fences
- Any outbuildings, garages or sheds that are on your property should be subjected to the same checks as the main building, particularly if they are in use. If you have a greenhouse pay particular attention here as the very fabric of these building are delicate and do not take any unnecessary risks while checking
- Adjoining walls and perimeter fencing should also be checked particularly on security grounds. Maybe you have service users with conditions that may be inquisitive and explore that could make any gaps a risk or give access to people on to your property
- Are all panels, posts in place, secure and free from damage?
- Gate posts and gates are also secure and intact
- Any security lighting, CCTV that may be mounted on the perimeter is still in place, secure and working
Tip Nine: Car parking, access, bins and storage areas
- You should include a check of any parking areas, particularly if these have areas have trees around them. Leaf litter and green debris may cause an accident
- Make sure any outside storage areas remain intact such as industrial bins, if you have oxygen storage or chemicals are these all secure and free from damage?
Tip Ten: Phone lines/trees
- Close attention should be paid to any trees and even more so if you have older premises with large old trees or tall boundary trees designed to give added privacy
- Can you see any obvious splits, cracks or missing branches? If you have carried out a tree survey as part of your organisational risk assessment this may be useful to have with you as it will already identify trees at risk
- Also check any neighbours’ trees that may overhang your property
- Check any overhead phone lines if you have them. They may be slack or broken. Is the pole visible and does it look secure/stable? It could be that this might have potentially knocked your phones down or reduced service. Have you checked the phones are working just in case?
Tip Eleven: Other points to consider
- Is there any leaf litter and debris on pathways? Is this a risk to slips, trips and falls?
- Have you checked on any neighbours’ property that may pose a risk to your property?
- Have you checked on any vulnerable neighbours?
- Try sending a message to all staff asking for them to check in. This is a nice touch to show you care but also allows you to assess who may not be able to attend shift
- Are your remote and community workers aware to check for property damage when turning up to service users’ houses?
- Checking local traffic/weather reports, cascade any issues to staff that may be affected travelling to work or to service user’s homes. Do they know how to report concerns?
Tip Twelve: Documentation, documentation, documentation
- It would be good practice to now review your business continuity plans with everything you have done as a response to any storm. This shows that you have tested some of the points within it, registered any actions required to rectify issues found, arrange a review date of any actions
- This will enable you to provide evidence of being safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led
Download the Business Continuity Plan Emergency test here.