Hurricane Safety Tips, Preparations, and Checklists

by Jennifer Towne from Acadia Insurance

Hurricane warning sign with dark skies in the background.The Northeast has been fortunate to have experienced a lull in hurricane activity in the past few years. However this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has revised its forecast to increase the likelihood of a more active season. NOAA now expects a 70 % chance of 12 – 17 named storms, of which 5 – 8 are expected to become hurricanes, including 2 – 4 major hurricanes. With the more active part of hurricane season in our sights, it is important to be prepared. Now is the time to put together an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for your business in case a hurricane or major storm does make landfall in the Northeast later this year. An EAP should include a pre-storm and post-storm plan with checklists to help you mitigate loss to your business and restore operations as quickly as possible following a storm.

If you already have an emergency action plan in place, take some time to review it once a year to ensure it reflects your present-day business. For example, your business may have expanded or relocated, you may have new management personnel, or you have new pieces of equipment to consider. An up-to-date EAP is essential to help ensure that your company’s response procedures are organized and well planned during workplace emergencies.

Hurricane Safety Tips: How to Prepare Before the Storm

Be sure to prepare your business before the storm, including setting up a “Go Box” for critical papers and information, including:

  • 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 with your Daigle & Travers 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:

  • Inspect and make emergency repairs to drains and gutters
  • Have all roof-mounted equipment such as HVAC units and exhaust vents properly strapped or anchored
  • Install windstorm shutters or plywood over windows and doors
  • Have the main electrical feeds to the facility disconnected to prevent a potential fire caused by short-circuiting of damaged equipment
  • Take steps so that outdoor items will not blow away or cause damage:
  • Remove all loose debris
  • Anchor or relocating all nonessential equipment to a safe indoor location
  • Secure storage of flammable liquid drums or move them to a sheltered area
  • Anchor all portable buildings to the ground
  • Secure large cranes and other heavy equipment
  • Make sure outdoor signs are properly braced

Hurricane Safety Tips: Recovering Quickly Following a Storm/Event

Finally, after the storm has passed, take the following steps to help get your business back to operational status as quickly as possible:

  1. Secure the site
  2. Survey the damage
  3. Survey 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
  4. Repair damage to automatic sprinkler systems and get them back in service as soon as possible
  5. Call in key personnel and notify contractors to start repairs
  6. Begin salvaging business property as soon as possible to prevent further damage
  7. Cover broken windows and torn roof coverings immediately to prevent further damage
  8. Separate damaged goods but beware of accumulating too much combustible debris inside of a building
  9. Clean roof drains and remove debris from the roof to prevent drainage problems
  10. Visually check any open bus bars, conductors and exposed insulators before restarting main electrical distribution systems.

For information on hurricane insurance for personal property, check out our blogs. Call Daigle & Travers Insurance Agency today to speak with one of our experts. We look forward to bringing you peace of mind.