Hurricanes are one of nature’s most destructive forces and cause incredible amounts of damage in the United States to homes and businesses alike. It is crucial for business owners to have an accurate assessment of their property’s risk in case of a hurricane and have a detailed plan that is ready for implementation if needed.
The first thing that businesses should consider is the vulnerability of their company’s property to wind and water damage. The building’s elevation above sea level can be determined by contacting local city and county floodplain officials, city planners and property site plans. If a business is found to be in a susceptible area, a detailed evacuation plan should be devised to ensure employee and customer safety in case of a hurricane.
A company’s building should be carefully inspected for structural soundness. If the building is located in an evacuation zone, an engineering company should be hired to determine if the foundation and structure can remain standing through winds produced by a hurricane and associated waves. Evacuation plans should be in place for buildings that are not structurally sound. An inspection is also useful for businesses to determine how the structure can be reinforced to withstand the brutal forces of the hurricane. Reinforcing weak areas can help business owners to protect their valuable investment.
Knowledge of the particular evacuation route that should be used by a particular business is crucial. Detailed information on specific routes can be obtained by the local emergency management office.
Businesses need to have a detailed plan that specifies hurricane preparation duties to be assigned to themselves and their employees. The plan should include everything from backing up the firms data, restoring documents, repairing the facility, temporary offices, communication and The plan should be presented to all new employees and reviewed on a yearly basis, preferably at the start of hurricane season.
Several different tasks to be assigned are essential for the business to perform to ensure the safety of their employees, customers and the public. Hurricane preparation activities should include anchoring down or storing outside furniture and merchandise, removing trash barrels, securing signs, removing excess gravel from gravel topped roofs, securing exhaust fans, air conditioning fans and any antennae on the roof top and anchoring awnings. A specific team of employees should be responsible for shutting down the facility’s electricity, gas and water supply.
Emergency equipment should be on hand at the business in case preparations and work need to be done in a power outage. A plentiful supply of quality flashlights and batteries should be available in addition to a reliable weather radio. An adequate supply of food, water, can openers, hygienic supplies, blankets and first aid supplies should be available to accommodate stranded employees and customers.
Supplies such as plywood, nails and duct tape should be replenished and inspected at the beginning of each hurricane season in order to board up the building if necessary. Other useful supplies to have on hand include rope for tethering down loose items, plastic sheeting and a staple gun for emergency roof and window repairs and pre-filled sandbags to keep water away from the building’s foundation.
It is wise for businesses to keep their hurricane readiness supplies together in one location of the property for easy access and to avoid confusion. The best time to gather and replenish supplies is well before the hurricane season starts. Once a hurricane is imminent, supplies are very difficult to obtain.