Proactive measures to protect your business against natural disasters
Awareness and concern for natural hazards has increased significantly in recent years. Hurricane seasons in the United States run from early Spring through November, and if you are near a coast, you are at risk each year. Site preparedness is integral in limiting loss potential to your facilities.
Early preparation is paramount when minimizing loss in the wake of natural disasters. Even if Hurricane Season is months away, there are risk management steps you can take to ensure preparedness when the storm is near. One of the first steps towards preparing for a natural disaster is to determine your facility’s flood exposure.
If you are located within a flood zone, one of the first steps to take is to develop hurricane emergency action and response plans and educate appropriate teams on the business continuity protocols. Give the response team leaders authority to initiate implementation of the plans. This organization should include:
Time should also be taken to determine and store vital company records, maintain agreements with contractors for supplies and future repairs, and ordering emergency supplies.
Physical preparation also needs to be given to the site. Have straps or other means on hand to brace yard storage, signs, etc. Make sure to inspect and repair roof coverings, provide pre-fitted hurricane shutters or plywood for windows, acquire sandbags where needed, and identify key equipment and stock what is needed to protect them (tarps, etc.).
During hurricane season it is important to map each storm front and keep up-to-date on the storm’s progress. If it is evident that a storm is heading your way, the action and response plans you organized will need to be initiated.
While many preparations can be made months in advance, some actions (for logistical purposes) need to be done shortly before the storm is due to hit. Promptly shut down operations that depend on outside power sources, turn off gas to minimize fire loss, fill fuel tanks for generators and fire pumps, and repair and fill above-ground tanks with water.
In terms of the site’s exterior, inspect and make emergency repairs to drains, gutters, flashing, etc., check and maintain all necessary backup equipment, and anchor or relocate anything on-site that could blow away (or blow into) and damage buildings. Make inspections on all fire equipment, clean out drains and catch basins.
It is also important to protect and relocate any vital records, cover computers and machinery with stock tarps where necessary, and get as many goods off of the floor, or ship them to another facility. Have cash on hand for post-storm needs on the chance of lost power and difficult logistical concerns.
Ensuring your and your employees’ physical safety is of the upmost concern. However, there are certain measures you can take during the storm if it is safe to do so. If it is possible, patrol the property on a continual basis to check for leaks, pipe breakages, fire damage, etch. In the event of a power failure, turn off electrical switches to prevent reactivation before necessary checks. It is also important to constantly monitor any boilers or other equipment that must remain online.
Once the storm has passed and it is safe to do so, it is important to secure the site. Surveying for damage includes looking for safety hazards such live wires, leaking gas, leaking flammable liquids, etc., and to visually inspect any open bus bars, conductors, exposed insulators, and similar equipment.
Once a survey is complete, call in personnel and notify contractors to begin repairs. Repairs may need to be completed on any damage to sprinkler systems, covering broken windows and torn roof coverings, and cleaning roof drains, and removing any debris from the roof. The sooner salvaging is begun, the less chance there is for further damage.
TÜV SÜD Global Risk Consultants (GRC) experts are on-hand to assist you in identifying your natural hazard risk exposures and implementing a proactive risk management plan in case of an event.
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