The Northeast has seen some fairly devastating damage during the last two hurricane seasons. With the destruction from Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Irene still fresh in our minds, it is important that all business owners prepare for this year’s hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted an active 2013 Atlantic hurricane season due to factors which include warmer than average ocean temperatures. The NOAA predicted that there will be 13 to 20 named storms, 7 to 11 hurricanes and 3 to 6 major hurricanes.
Although the 2013 season so far has been mild, don’t lose sight of the importance of creating or revisiting a pre-storm and post-storm Emergency Action Plan (EAP) so that you are prepared if a hurricane does make landfall in your area.
I recommend that all property owners make the same hurricane preparations each year, regardless of how active or inactive the seasonal forecast is, and this is particularly important if you own coastal property. An up-to-date EAP is essential to help ensure that your company’s response procedures are organized and well planned during workplace emergencies. Remember, it only takes one landfall event near you to make this an active season. Formalized plans can result in less severe injuries to employees and can help minimize business damage and loss.
Prepare Before the Storm
Be sure to prepare your business before the storm, including setting up a “Go Box” for critical papers and information such as:
- Lists of all employees, key customers and clients along with their phone numbers and addresses
- Insurance policies and agent contact information
- Electronic data back-up
- Equipment, computer software/hardware, and furniture inventories
- A list of emergency vendors, such as plumbers and restoration contractors
- Copies of essential business policies, plans, and agreements
- Photographs of the business and equipment, both inside and out
Additionally, think ahead about what you would do if your buildings were unusable after a storm. Check your policy or with your independent insurance agent to know what your business interruption insurance will actually cover, and whether you will be compensated for lost income if your company has to leave its site because of disaster-related damage.
You should also consider other pre-storm steps to help secure business property such as:
- Inspecting and making emergency repairs to drains and gutters
- Having all roof-mounted equipment such as HVAC units and exhaust vents properly strapped or anchored
- Installing windstorm shutters or plywood over windows and doors
- Having the main electrical feeds to the facility disconnected to prevent a potential fire caused by short-circuiting of damaged equipment
- Taking the following steps so that outdoor items will not blow away or cause damage:
- Removing all loose debris
- Anchoring or relocating all nonessential equipment to a safe indoor location
- Securing storage of flammable liquid drums, or move them to a sheltered area
- Anchoring all portable buildings to the ground
- Securing large cranes and other heavy equipment
- Making sure outdoor signs are properly braced
Finally, after the storm has passed, take the following steps to help minimize business interruption:
- Securing the site
- Surveying the damage
- Surveying for safety hazards such as live wires, leaking gas or flammable liquids, poisonous gases, and damage to foundations or underground piping and notifying the appropriate utility companies or emergency responders of any such safety hazards
- Repairing damage to automatic sprinkler systems and getting them back in service as soon as possible
- Calling in key personnel and notifying contractors to start repairs – after ensuring that safety systems are fully implemented before work is allowed to begin.
- Beginning salvage as soon as possible to prevent further damage
- Covering broken windows and torn roof coverings immediately
- Separating damaged goods, but beware of accumulating too much combustible debris inside of a building
- Cleaning roof drains and removing debris from the roof to prevent drainage problems
- Visually checking any open bus bars, conductors and exposed insulators before restarting main electrical distribution systems.
To learn more about storm preparation, please contact your local Acadia agent or visit ourLoss Control page for more hurricane preparedness tips.
Acadia is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness. Distribution of this information does not constitute an assumption by us of your obligations to provide a safe workplace. Maintaining a safe workplace in accordance with all laws is your responsibility. We make no representation or warranty that our activities or recommendations will place you in compliance with law, relieve you of potential liability or ensure your premises or operations are safe. We exercise no control over your premises or operations and have no responsibility or authority to implement loss prevention practices or procedures.