Hurricane Preparedness for Facilities and Businesses

Proactive measures to protect your business against natural disasters

Proactive measures to protect your business against natural disasters

YEAR-ROUND HURRICANE PREPARATION

The rise in extreme weather and natural hazards has made risk mitigation a top priority for many organizations. Hurricane seasons in the United States run from early Spring through November. If you are near a coast, you are at risk each year. Site preparedness is integral to 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 property risk engineering 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, develop hurricane emergency response plans and educate your team on the business continuity protocols. Give the response team leaders authority to initiate implementation of the plans. Your response team should:

  • Designate a weather watcher who will monitor conditions
  • Identify all critical areas of the facility
  • Gather telephone numbers for local and corporate emergency preparedness centers
  • Arrange backup communications
  • Arrange an off-site communications control center outside of the windstorm area

Determine and store vital company records and maintain agreements with contractors for supplies and future repairs.

Physical preparation is also critical. Brace yard storage, signs, and equipment. 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.).

PLANNING FOR AN IMPENDING HURRICANE

Hurricane Preparedness for Facilities and BusinessesDuring hurricane season it is important to map each storm front and keep up-to-date on the storm’s progress. If a storm is heading your way, initiate your action and response plans.

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. Here are some to note:

  • 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
  • Repair and fill above-ground tanks with water
  • Inspect the site’s exterior and make emergency repairs to drains, gutters, flashing, etc.
  • Check and maintain all necessary backup equipment
  • Anchor or relocate anything on-site that could blow away (or blow into) and damage buildings
  • Inspect all fire equipment
  • Clean out drains and catch basins
  • Protect and relocate any vital records
  • Cover computers and machinery with stock tarps where necessary
  • Get goods off 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

DURING THE HURRICANE

Ensuring your employees’ physical safety is of the upmost concern. However, there are certain valuable measures you can take during the storm if it is safe to do so.

  • Patrol the property on a continual basis to check for leaks, pipe breakages, fire damage, etc.
  • In the event of a power failure, turn off electrical switches to prevent reactivation before necessary checks
  • Constantly monitor any boilers or other equipment that must remain online

AFTER THE HURRICANE

Once the storm has passed and it is safe to do so, secure your 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.

EXPERTISE TO PROTECT YOUR FACILITIES

TÜV SÜD Global Risk Consultants (GRC) experts are on-hand to assist you in identifying your natural hazard risk exposures and implementing a proactive property risk engineering plan in case of an event.


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