Hurricanes have shown us their devastating power and the costly destruction they can deliver. The Insurance Information Institute reports that hurricanes account for seven of the 10 costliest catastrophes in U.S. history.
Hurricanes can cause severe flooding and extensive damage from heavy rainfall, storm surge and sustained winds. A storm surge occurs just before a hurricane touches land when the low pressure of the hurricane eye draws in the surface of the ocean. This effect creates a wall of water up to 20 feet higher than the normal high tide that can extend 50 to 100 miles. Hurricanes may spawn tornadoes that can also cause extensive damage.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. Don’t get caught off guard. Advances in technology and weather tracking have made it easier to detect these storms before they made landfall. Proper preparation and action steps can help reduce damage and potential loss of life dramatically.
Steps to take before hurricane season
- Establish or review an Emergency Action Plan that considers prevention, emergency response, evacuation criterion, and disaster recovery and key personnel.
- Designate an Emergency Coordinator and Emergency Action Team. Schedule meetings and drills to ensure members know their roles and responsibilities.
- Review your Emergency Action Plan with the local authorities and know your community safety plan.
- Confirm that you can receive the local NOAA radio frequency. The National Weather Service uses NOAA Weather Radio to deliver critical information and storm updates.
- Detail communication procedures for staff, vendors and clients. Maintain a current list of key contacts with telephone numbers and addresses. Keep a copy accessible offsite.
- Ensure provisions for alternate remote data transmissions.
- Provide cellular or satellite phones to essential personnel.
- Review your insurance policies to determine if you have adequate flood and wind insurance.
- Inspect roofs and flashing to ensure they are properly secure.
- Trim trees and shrubbery with safety in mind. Avoid electrical lines and excessive heights.
- Clear loose clogged rain gutters and downspouts. Check drains pumps.
- Secure or brace outside storage tanks, sheds and other structures.
- Maintain a supply of plastic or tarpaulin to cover water-sensitive equipment.
- Buy plywood (min. ½ inch) or shutters to protect doors and windows.
- Ensure proper working condition for emergency equipment, such as flashlights and battery powered radios, drills and saws.
- Stock non-perishable food, first-aid supplies and drinking water.
Purchase N-95, NIOSH-approved disposable respirators for working with moldy or damp materials.
- Create an emergency evacuation kit for employees and their families including: first-aid, baby food and diapers, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, blankets or sleeping bags, identification and valuable papers.
Steps to take when a hurricane watch is issued
- Activate your facility’s Emergency Action Plan and ensure that copies are accessible off site.
- Listen frequently to radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins on the storm’s progress.
- Evacuate non-essential personnel.
- Move fuel and service emergency vehicles and generators inside the building or to a safe location.
- Inspect storm, roof and floor drains to ensure they are free of debris and fully functional.
- Prepare to cover all windows and doors with shutters or other shielding materials.
- Anchor al equipment stored outside.
- Brace all signs, tanks and roof equipment.
- Remove all awnings and lightweight outdoor coverings.
- Protect vital records against flooding and wind. Elevate all possible valuable off the floor onto furniture and shelving.
- Secure back-up records off site, away from the targeted hurricane area.
- Ensure an adequate stock of non-perishable food, first-aid supplies, drinking water and other supplies for staff and emergency crews.
- Check batteries in flashlights and radios.
- Hurrican Preparedness brought to you by Chubb