Preparing for Hurricane Season
Hurricane season is here. We all know the drill, but we would like to remind you of a hurricane’s potential and the risks it could pose to health and property. Below are items to consider when preparing and responding to a hurricane.
Key Stakeholders & Communication
- Locate your local insurance broker’s phone number, your policy numbers and insurance company’s claims number on how to report a claim.
- Meet with your local Emergency Services or Unified Command Team (Police, Fire, EMS, Public Works, Social Services, etc.) to review your local emergency operations plans.
- Know the phone number to your local power company.
- Make sure your phone tree is up to date with the correct contacts.
- Test communication systems and have backup communication plans.
- Have a storm recovery company ready to assist as soon as they can.
- Review and update your emergency action plan, hurricane emergency plan and emergency response manual and have that ready to go with you via hard copy.
- Keep emergency items on hand in case needed. For example tarps, wet/dry vac, flashlights, batteries, plywood, 2×4 lumber, PPE, cleaning supplies, chainsaw, portable generator and other items as needed.
- Inside the building have all computer and electronic equipment placed off the floor area, on top of a desk or removed if allowed.
- Relocate valuable items, electronics and files by taking them off the floors of below-grade facilities or any area that is prone to flood.
- Isolate or remove any chemicals that may act violently with one another or with water.
- Move all cash, checks and important company records to a secure location.
- Move merchandise, equipment and furniture from nearby windows and skylights to protect them from water damage.
- If you have backup power, be sure it has fuel to run your equipment if necessary.
- If you have an emergency generator, make sure it’s in good working condition. Install sump pumps with backup batteries.
- If possible, and if you have known flooding areas, place sandbags at the entry door areas and ground-level windows to prevent water from entering the building. Cover glass doors and windows with protective material.
- If you have low-lying pump rooms, check that the sump is working properly and that any drains are free and clear to keep water from standing and damaging equipment.
- Before the storm, clean out and declutter maintenance and storage areas to ensure access to tools and supplies and allow for storage of vulnerable equipment.
- Check rooftop drainage to be sure it is clear of any debris, leaves, or objects that could prevent the flow of water off the roof line. If you have a flat roof, also check that the drainage has a free flow to the ground below, including the gutters.
- Check for objects on the roof that may become loose and become a danger below and remove or secure them. Strap, anchor or remove any roof-mounted equipment such as weather stations, HVAC units, exhaust vents, wind turbines, antennas, and satellite equipment.
- On the outside, check that all downspouts are in good condition, secured in place and clean and clear to allow the flow of water away from the building. It is important that the water is going away from the building to prevent damage to the structure and what is on the other side of the wall.
- Check that parking lot storm water drains are free and clear of debris that could slow water from draining and cause problems.
- If you have a retaining water area, inspect that for any problems that could cause water to not drain properly or not contain stormwater runoff.
- Walk around the property and secure all objects that could become projectiles and be picked up by strong winds. For example, remove or secure temporary awnings or shelters, flip picnic tables on their tops, flip soccer goals over and secure them together or to a fence if possible, take down tents and shade structures, place pool chairs and tables inside a structure or in the pool as long as they are easy to retrieve, remove outdoor trash cans, and check your adventure course to secure items.
- Early on before the season, check your trees and canopy for dead limbs that will come down in a storm and damage buildings and remove them. Once a hurricane watch or warning has been issued, do not attempt to trim trees and/or shrubs.
- If you have canoes, kayaks, sailfish, 0r paddle boards, place them in a safe and secure location. Include paddles and PFDs.
- If you have power boats, remove them from the water and place them in a location free of trees and limbs, like an open field.
- If you are located right on a waterway, board up windows and place sandbags at the doorways. If you have docks, and can remove them, do so to prevent damage from rough water pounding on them.
- Place any vehicles in a location free of trees and limbs, like an open field.
- Have a location you can take your buses and vehicles to higher ground if your property is known to have flooding issues. Make sure it is a well-lit area and close to where local authorities can keep an eye on it.
- Have backup keys for all vehicles and buildings. Label keys and store them in a safe place.
- Fill vehicles with gas prior to storms.
- Have an evacuation plan in place that can be executed quickly to get program participants and staff to safety. Follow the advice of local and state authorities and avoid flooded roads and bridges.
- Contact bus companies so that you know you are first priority if you need to evacuate.
- Have a shelter or location that you can take everyone to and away from harm.
- When evacuated, looting is a real possibility while the facility is closed and immediately following a storm. Update your security system and cameras and investigate ways to check footage from your sheltering location.
- If you have camp animals, such as horses, trailer them inland while evacuated. If you are unable to, have a plan for who will check on them and ensure they have enough clean water and food.
- When evacuating, unplug appliances and turn off propane tanks at the source. Back up critical electronic files. Turn off the power, water, and gas to buildings when possible.
- Once the storm has passed and it is determined safe to travel by local authorities, check on facilities using a buddy system to inspect the property. Avoid flooded roads and have staff check in with supervisors regularly with their location and updates on safety.
- Stay alert for damaged trees and falling limbs, extended rainfall and subsequent flooding.
- Bugs and wildlife are displaced by storms, so be alert, and wear proper clothing, sunscreen and bug spray.
- Take pictures and videos to document any damage.
- Notify and call to report damages to your insurance company and your broker.
- Call a storm recovery company and get them out as soon as possible if damages are found. Protect the property with tarps and other items as needed to prevent further water damage if it’s safe to do so.
- Keep away from loose or fallen power lines, and report them immediately to the power company. Document any storm damage and impact with photos.
- Begin salvage as soon as possible. For example, cover broken windows, remove water, cover or repair roofs, and clean the roof drains and gutters to allow for continued drainage and runoff.
- If you have an adventure course, after the storm, you may have to have an inspection completed before opening up again.
- Hospitals report that the most common injuries they treat related to hurricanes are those from chainsaws and ladder use. Conduct a storm preparedness training with your staff to include a review of safety related to chainsaws, tools, ladders, and machinery and vehicles used for storm prep and debris removal.
- Dehydration is another common cause of injury or illness related to hurricanes, stock up on drinking water and remind your staff to take frequent breaks for shade and hydration.
Please be safe and know that we all are hopeful that you’ll sustain hurricane season without any serious damage or injuries.