June 23, 2016

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

Hurricane season is upon us. While most commonly running June 1 through November 30, it is not unusual to experience a hurricane outside of this timeframe as well. With sustained winds of more than 74 mph, hurricanes are the most destructive storms – having the power to crush buildings, uproot trees and spin loose objects into deadly projectiles. It only takes one hurricane to change your life. Don’t wait until it’s too late to prepare.

Depending on a hurricane’s intensity, speed and direction, these tropical storms produce a series of other weather-related threats to homes and businesses, such as:

  • Tornadoes
  • Wildfires
  • Severe hail
  • Earthquakes
  • Heavy winds
  • Increased flooding and mudslides
  • Storm surge

It’s essential to be aware of these threats and how they may affect your place of business. Ask yourself the following three questions to prepare your business for hurricane season.

Do you know if you work in an area where there is a threat?

First, identify where you work and the potential risks of that area. If you work in an area threatened by hurricanes, mostly commonly along the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Hawaiian Islands, be aware of your evacuation zone and familiarize yourself with the other zones around you.

Evacuation zones are coastal areas where there is a danger of strong winds and storm surge. There are six hurricane evacuation zones, ranked by the risk of storm surge impact. If your building and its foundation are not structurally able to withstand severe wind and water, or you live in Zone 1, the most susceptible zone to flooding, then you should plan to evacuate during a hurricane. Contact your local emergency management office to learn more about your zone and your local evacuation route, as some roads may be closed in the event of a hurricane.

Do you know the difference between a hurricane watch and hurricane warning?

Hurricane Watch: if it is possible for a hurricane to touch down in or near your area within 24 to 36 hours. If a watch is issued in your direct and outlying areas, remain alert.

Hurricane Warning: when a hurricane has been detected on the ground by weather radar. If a warning is issued, evacuate or seek shelter immediately.

It is essential to frequently monitor radio and television newscasts for information and instructions. Make sure to have a battery-operated radio in case the power cuts out.

Do you know what to do if a hurricane watch/warning is issued?

Always have a hurricane preparedness plan within your organization. It is never too early to begin planning. Since you are responsible for protecting your facility and employees, consider holding bi-annual trainings, before the beginning of hurricane season as well as during the season, to cover each part of your preparedness plan. Make sure to also inform new employees as they are hired.

Your plan should include an outline of employee tasks and who will perform each (member/team), an evacuation and continuity plan and a disaster kit.

List of Employee Tasks

Some tasks may require ongoing involvement to prepare for a disaster, while other tasks will only be necessary if a hurricane touches down. Make sure each employee knows his or her responsibility and how to properly perform each.

  • Update your list of employee phone numbers (should be done each time someone is hired or let go)
  • Take pictures of and document all office supplies/equipment for insurance purposes
  • Board-up
  • Secure/Store exterior equipment
  • Secure/Store interior equipment
  • Shut off the electrical power (or lights and equipment)
  • Clean out the refrigerator

For more information about securing your property in the event of a hurricane, read our blog, “Stay Safe During a Hurricane.”

Disaster Kit

Always have on hand a disaster kit with necessary items to keep you and your employees safe during a hurricane. Make sure to store this in a waterproof container or bag to secure your items in case of flooding. The following should be included in your business’ disaster kit.

  • Battery-operated radios with National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio frequencies
  • Flashlights & fresh supply of batteries
  • Food (canned goods, non-perishable)
  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Can opener (if applicable for non-perishables)
  • Personal hygiene items (soap, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, toilet paper)
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Raingear
  • Gloves
  • Blankets
  • Small emergency generator to recharge equipment
  • Insurance policy information, financial records
  • Current photos of the facility/equipment

DKI Commercial Solutions is always ready with crews around the country to assist you in your time of need. We continually work around hurricane season to remind our staff and member companies of the potential threats and how to respond. Should a disaster occur, please call our Emergency Response Line: 866-277-2977, and we’ll be happy to help get your business back to running with minimal or no business interruption.