Over the past several years, windstorms have damaged countless businesses in the United States. Although business interruption and property damage are both covered issues, a damaged reputation and market share losses can still be financially devastating. Problems are worsening for business owners everywhere as windstorms continue to increase in frequency and severity and wiith adequate preparation, business owners can prevent some of the biggest losses. Use this checklist as a guide.
Develop an emergency plan with comprehensive provisions. Assign roles to different people within the organization, and train them regarding their responsibilities every year. The plan must provide for assembling supplies in a safe place. Make a list of vendors related to recovery and salvage. Also, make a business continuity plan as part of this step, and revise it as necessary each year.
Designate a storm monitor. Choose someone who is capable of monitoring and reporting the status of the storm. This person should be able to communicate with other workers or departments while allowing time to coordinate and implement emergency procedures.
Keep the roof in good repair. Inspect the roof regularly for loose coverings, flashing, gutters and downspouts. Repair them immediately. If drains are clogged with leaves and debris, clean them. Secure any stacks, signs and ventilators on the roof, and anchor any large equipment.
Store loose items in advance. If there is a threat of a windstorm, put away any chairs, equipment or decorations that could become flying hazards. Also, be sure to cover, secure or store any flammable containers properly. Do not store them in the main facility. Also, keep trees and shrubs trimmed to avoid falling or swinging branches.
Protect doors and windows. Any windows and exterior doors should have pre-fitted storm shutters. If these are not available, use plywood to secure them. Inspect windows and doors regularly for loose hardware. If there are any roll-up doors with metal brackets, install steel bars on the inside of them.
Fill generator tanks. Also, fill fire pump tanks and gas tanks on company vehicles. To prevent wind damage to above-ground water tanks, fill them in advance. Keep any basins or drains free of debris.
Protect valuables in the building. Keep computers away from windows or glass doors. If there are expensive inventory items, be sure that they are in a safe place in a warehouse and are kept away from doors or windows. If rain is expected with the windstorm, put protective covers on expensive items.
Prepare for flooding. Those who are located in flood zones should relocate important equipment and records to places that are safe from flood waters. For sewer systems, install back-flow prevention parts. If necessary, place sandbags along vulnerable points around the business. When there is impending danger, turn off the power to the building. However, power for fire pumps should be left on.
Be prepared to terminate operations. Shut off everything that is flammable or combustible. Enforce rules for no smoking, welding or cutting.
Follow safety procedures during a storm. However, keep watch over the property as much as possible without violating safety rules. When the windstorm is over, contact key personnel and the insurance company to assess damages. Perform any temporary repairs as necessary to prevent further damage, and save all receipts. Call salvage contacts to pick up damaged or ruined equipment if necessary. When it is safe to do so, start cleaning up the property by trimming broken tree branches, cleaning out the gutters and taking steps to prevent mold growth. To learn more, please discuss your concerns with an agent.