Hurricane Season: Tips to Weather the Storm
Between the global pandemic, natural wildfires and severe storms, 2020 was a year full of unprecedented disasters. As June 1 marks the official beginning of the 2021 hurricane season, we’re here to bring a refresher on how to prepare with readiness tips, facts and forecasts to help you and your business weather the storm.
NOAA’s initial 2021 forecast predicts a 60% chance of another “above-normal” season with between 13 and 20 named storms. Of those storms, between six and 10 are likely to become hurricanes, and between three and five could become major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of 111mph or higher).
Hurricane season lasts until November 30.
· Develop and distribute specific instructions for employees to follow for closing down operations, shutting down and protecting equipment, and evacuating the site. This plan should cover procedures for regrouping after the event.
· If you’re located in an evacuation area, familiarize yourself and your employees with evacuation routes. Identify safe places to take shelter until the danger passes.
· Follow National Weather Service watches, advisories, warnings, and outlooks. Information about these alerts is available here.
· Prepare a reference list with contact information for local hospitals, radio and TV stations, law enforcement offices, utility providers, fire and rescue squads, and your property insurance agent.
· Know where utility controls are located and how to shut them off if needed.
· Become familiar with the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines for food and water safety in disaster zones. Such information is available here.
· Complete a Flood Emergency Response Plan
· Be aware of the possibility that your insurance company will issue a Suspension of Binding Authority. In such cases, individual agents cannot authorize new or expanded coverage.
· Prepare emergency kits with basic supplies to store in key locations. The National Hurricane Center recommends including a three-day supply of food and water (one gallon per person per day), flashlight, first aid kit, battery-operated radio, extra batteries, local maps, manual can opener, and a cell phone with charger and backup battery.
· Have all important documents – including your wood products insurance policy – available for quick reference and to take with you should you need to evacuate.
· Keep plastic sheets or tarps on-hand to cover items in case the roof leaks.
· Place items such as fixed or temporary flood barriers to block water from entering facility.
· Arrange for off-site backup of all important company files and data essential to business operations.
· Lock windows and doors, removing any window air conditioning units.
· Unplug appliances and electronics.
· Relocate critical items to a safe area.
· Anchor loose outdoor objects, including furniture and garbage cans.
· Check exterior drainage channels. Clear
gutters and elevate any valuables in basements.
· Check roof areas and drains to make sure they are clear of debris, including any equipment/material that could become windblown. Secure all items remaining on the roof.
· If you have a generator, review safety guidelines for placement, usage and fuel storage. Make sure you have ample fuel to sustain business operations if the power goes out.
Hurricane Fact – The calm that follows a raging hurricane or tropical cyclone may signal the onset of tornadoes, or it may simply be the eye of the storm passing through.
· It might be tempting to return to your home or business as soon as the skies clear. However, it’s important to wait until officials declare an area safe before venturing into it. Pauses in storm activity do not always signal that you are no longer in danger.
· When returning to an evacuated zone, follow broadcast advisories and proceed with caution.
· Don’t hesitate to contact your forest products insurance agent immediately following the storm if you anticipate filing claims for losses. The sooner you communicate your needs, the sooner your agent can help guide you toward post-event recovery.