Hurricane researchers have predicted an above-average hurricane season. If your facility is located in an area that is at risk for hurricanes, it’s important to have a plan for how you will handle it before you receive word of a threat. Even relatively minor hurricanes can cause significant damage through high winds and flooding. Church Mutual works with many organizations throughout the United States that must be prepared for hurricanes. Here are some steps you can consider taking:
Before the hurricane
- Develop an emergency plan, train staff and run drills. Practicing when there is no threat will build confidence in your staff, and they will need less direction from leadership in an emergency situation.
- Prepare emergency kits. Should a hurricane hit, you and your staff, volunteers or members may be trapped for an indeterminate amount of time. Emergency kits should have nonperishable foods, bottled water, flashlights, clothing, blankets and batteries.
- Consider upgrading your facility. Many buildings in hurricane-prone areas have hurricane clips, gable end bracing, hurricane-proof doors and hurricane shutters. If your building does not have any of these protections, you may want to consider adding them to your budget.
- Re-adhere shingles to your roof. This can save you thousands of dollars in roof repair. You should strongly consider securing the services of qualified, insured professionals for this task.
- Trim your trees. Prune away branches that are close to your building and remove weak sections of trees that might easily break off. Here, too, you should consider hiring professionals to perform this job.
- Establish a business continuity plan. Make sure you know how you will continue operations during and after the hurricane, and back up all data.
When the hurricane threatens
- Communicate with your people. Make sure all the people in your organization—both those at your facility and those in other locations—know what’s happening when you have relevant information.
- Move your valuables. Shut down computers and electronics and transfer your valuables to a safe, high, dry place.
- Secure your building. Lock all your doors and windows and turn off your electricity.
After the hurricane
- Listen to local officials. Instruct all the people in your organization to stay where they are until officials give the all-clear. If they are in your facility, it may be too dangerous to leave shelter, and if they are away from the facility, it may not be safe to travel.
- Be cautious about re-entering your building(s). Once it is safe to return to the property, be careful about re-entering the buildings. Do not do so if there appears to be structural damage, if you observe power lines down, or if you notice the odor of natural gas. Wear appropriate protective equipment and be mindful of the hazards associated with flood water.
- Prevent infectious diseases. Do not eat or drink anything that has come into contact with flood water. Encourage your people to practice good hygiene, washing their hands with soap when running water is available and using hand sanitizer when it’s not.
- Contact your insurance company. Your insurance company needs to know about any damages to your facility as soon as it’s safe to reach out. It will be able to advise you as to next steps.
For more hurricane preparedness information and resources, visit churchmutual.com/weather.