hurricane season

6 Tips to Make Your Business Hurricane Ready

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Are You and Your Business Ready for the Next Hurricane?

June 1 marked the beginning of the 2017 Hurricane Season, and meteorologists anticipate it to be a busy season. In the Atlantic, an estimated 11 to 17 storms are predicted to be named, with five to nine storms becoming a hurricane, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

There are a few things you and your business should be aware of when it comes to preparing for this hurricane season, including two major changes to forecasting storms and six things your business should do to prepare for the storms.

Major Changes Expected for This Year

One of the new changes from NOAA that we may see is that advisories can now be issued for systems before they even form, and will be referred to as potential tropical cyclones.  The advisory will only be issued for systems that may develop hurricane force winds to land within 48 hours.

The second change includes the ability to issue storm surge watches and warnings along the US coastlines, which are similar to hurricane watches and warnings.

To put things in perspective, just because a hurricane is labeled Category 1 does not mean that you should dismiss the dangers associated with the hurricane. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew ranged from Category 1 to 5. By the time the storm reached the Carolinas, Hurricane Matthew was at Category 1 and 2. However, torrential rainfall, flash flooding, and storm surges caused significant damage along the coast of North and South Carolina.

Is Your Business Prepared?

It’s never too early to start preparing for a hurricane or other natural disasters such as flash flooding, tornadoes, severe weather or tropical storms.  It only takes one disaster to disrupt your business and cause significant damage.

Here are few tips to help prepare you and  your business for natural disasters:

  1. Develop an Emergency Action Plan.  Train your staff on what to do in case of weather emergencies.  It is also best to review your EAP every year, as business operations may have changed. An Emergency Action Plan should include information regarding:
    • Evacuation routes and procedures
    • Critical plant operations
    • Backing up critical information and company data records
    • Accounting for evacuees
    • Emergency Action Communication
    • Rescue and medical duties
    • Procedures for reporting emergencies
  2. Know Your Hazards.  Conduct a risk assessment and walk around the interior and exterior areas of your facility to note any potential hazards should damage occur.  Are trees close to power lines or the building? Do you have a shelter in place location away from windows and exterior walls? Are there items outside that could become airborne and cause damage?  Could you be exposed to hazardous gases or materials?
  3. Review Insurance Coverage. Meet with your insurance provider to ensure you have adequate coverage for your area. Make sure that any large or expensive equipment is included in the coverage.  Also, take the time to review your personal homeowners insurance.  Do you have flood insurance? Are you required to have flood insurance?
  4. Take Inventory of Equipment. Document, photograph or video all equipment that is mandatory for your business to operate.  Note the type of equipment, model numbers, serial numbers and date of purchase.  Equipment could include computers, large scale printers, forklifts, or any other specialized equipment.   If you hold inventory, keep records of inventory on hand.  This documentation may make it easier should you have to file a claim for damages.
  5. Back Up All Data.  Most businesses have a server that automatically backs up their data every few days or weeks.  In the event of a severe weather alert or hurricane warning, it would be best to have a Plan B.  Talk to the IT department about a cloud-based back up system, in case the server itself is damaged.
  6. Know Who to Call.  After a catastrophic event, many business owners are at a loss for what to do.  If structural damage or flooding occurred, then water damage has most likely occurred.   To mitigate losses, business owners should contact a reputable restoration contractor or large loss professional, in addition to insurance providers.  Meeting with a professional before hand may make things easier in the long run.  The professional will be familiar with your facility and restoration needs.

If you have more questions about conducting a risk assessment  or what to do after a natural disaster strikes, Call SRP Environmental 24/7 at (866) 222-4972.   The SRP Disaster Response Team has a large network of roofers, restoration contractors and mold remediation contractors to assist you in getting your business back up and running.  With eight convenient locations in Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Long Beach, Midland, Shreveport and Pittsburgh, SRP will be able to mobilize crews within 24 hours of a catastrophic event.

Dealing With a Hurricane is Traumatic Enough, Consult With a Disaster Response Professional for Flood Assistance

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Dealing With a Hurricane is Traumatic Enough, Consult With a Disaster Response Professional for Flood Assistance

Once the rain is gone and the flooding has receded, you are left with traces of contaminated water in your home or office. Flood damage to your home or business is devastating and an unexpected task to deal with.

Any outside water source that enters your home or business contains potentially harmful bacteria, including animal or human waste.  Floodwater is considered a Category 3 water source, which is the worst type of classification.  Category 3 water, or commonly referred to as black water, often contains infectious organisms, including intestinal bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella; Hepatitis A Virus; and agents of typhoid, paratyphoid and tetanus. (Source: www.osha.gov) Additionally, water damaged areas promote mold growth. Mold spores can cause allergy-like symptoms, respiratory problems and even infections.

So what do you do next?

Contact a mold professional. Fungi, or more commonly mold, can begin to grow within 24-48 hours following a water intrusion event. With floodwater damage, it is recommended to contact a professional to conduct a fungal and bacterial assessment. Trained environmental consultants will be able to provide a full environmental assessment of the mold and bacterial growth, including hidden mold or potential contaminants within the HVAC system. A visual inspection is conducted and if necessary, mold and bacteria samples are taken. The environmental consultant will be able to interpret the results and develop a protocol with procedures needed to properly remove the mold and bacteria.

Consult with a mold remediation contractor. The environmental consultant may be able to assist you in contacting a contractor. Regardless, there are a few things you should know. Be aware of your states’ laws regarding mold contractors and mold remediation. For example, Louisiana law prohibits a contractor who performs the mold removal from obtaining mold samples of the home or building. Irregardless of the law, separating professionals who performs the work and who obtains samples eliminates any conflict of interest.

Before hiring a contractor, ask for references and verify that he or she is a licensed mold remediation contractor in your state. A written contract should also be obtained prior to having any work performed.

Air out the area. You can initially begin to air out the area by opening up windows and doors to allow air circulation. However, this task will most likely be done by the contractor. The contractor will be able to set up dehumidifiers to wick moisture out of the damaged materials and then remove damaged materials.

Disinfect any salvageable personal items. Once it is safe to enter the home or business, you can begin to remove personal items. It is recommended to thoroughly wash and disinfect the items. This will help prevent exposing you and your family or employees to fungi or bacteria from the floodwater. Keep in mind porous materials like rugs or books may not be salvageable. Furniture can be a challenge because it may be difficult to thoroughly clean inside the cushions. For clothing, follow manufacturers washing instructions.

Trust the Professionals. Many homeowners want to clean and remove mold or damaged materials themselves. However, for the health and safety of your family or employees, it is best to allow the professionals to clean and properly remove the mold and bacteria. The mold consultants and mold contractors have the experience and training needed to perform disaster restoration services.

We understand that dealing with a flooded home or office can be stressful and overwhelming. SRP has assisted homeowners and business owners in disaster response for over 20 years. Hurricane Katrina, Super Storm Sandy and most recently, the devastating flood in South Louisiana. If you have questions about what to do, contact us toll free at 866 222 4972.