How to Prepare for a Hurricane: Protecting Your Building
Unlike tornadoes, earthquakes, and flash floods, hurricane forecasts allow individuals in affected areas more time to evacuate or take shelter.
As a business owner, the option to evacuate may never enter your mind, as you are completely focused on the well-being of your business. However, if you are in a susceptible area, not knowing how to prepare for a hurricane could spell major trouble for both you and your operations.
Even with a few days' notice, it takes an enormous effort to adequately prepare various elements of your building such as the roof, windows and doors, and other exterior elements.
Plan well ahead so you have the equipment you need on hand, because hardware and department stores may not have what you're looking for in the eleventh hour. Also, practice the routine you'll be taking to get added protection in place. Having everything on hand won't do any good if you have time to set up only half of it before the storm arrives. Plus, your preparation ahead of time can make things easier after the storm.
Keep these tasks in mind so you and your business will be ready for the worst.
Protecting your roof
- Inspect your roof and prioritize any repairs that need to be made. If your roof has been listed or approved by a national testing laboratory, ensure repairs can withstand at least the same level of force that the original could bear.
- Check roof protrusions such as vents, skylights, signs, equipment, and pipes for damage, tightness, and bracing.
- Remove any obstructions to gutters, drains, and nearby storm drains to prevent blockage.
Protecting your doors and windows
- Install window shutters or removable covers on windows. If these are not available, then opt to board up any sort of glass exposures.
- Double-check the strength of your showcase glass. All merchandise should already have been removed, but you can prevent any further damage to your business property by reinforcing interior fixtures that are at risk.
- Secure locks and make sure door frames are sturdy enough to handle high winds.
- Place sandbags at low points of your property and at door thresholds.
Protecting your other exterior elements
- Depending on your building structure classification, inspect anchoring systems between your foundation, walls, and roof. Correct any areas that may not provide necessary protection from high wind.
- Reduce windborne debris such as gravel on walkways or parking lots, landscaping features, and nearby trees or shrubs.
- Take down and secure other signs, banners, or flags that promote your business by bringing them indoors.
- If your business utilizes gas or propane for energy consumption or manufacturing purposes, make sure these components are closed off and highly secured.
Staying up to date on the condition of your building year-round is a wise way to expedite the process of preparing for a hurricane. If you only check the condition of your roof before a hurricane is forecasted, you may end up discovering that there are more repairs that need to made than you possibly have time for.
Avoid the variety of dangers that are present before, during, and after storms by downloading our Hurricane Preparedness Guide!
This post was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for accuracy.