As we prepare to move into the warmer summer months, it's time to prepare for one of the season's most unwanted and unannounced guests. Hurricanes are a common summertime danger for those in the country's coastal regions. Hurricane Preparedness Week is this week, and it's a perfect opportunity for facility maintenance managers to brush up on what they can do to make sure their building maintenance is in order and their facilities have a plan in place in the event that the worst should blow into town.
Know your enemy
According to the National Hurricane Center, the term "hurricane" is actually something of a catch-all that describes a collection of different related weather hazards, from inland flooding to high winds to storm surge - a sudden massive rise in water due to the storm winds. Hurricanes are unfortunately unpreventable, and can cause tens of millions of dollars in damage to environment and property.
As a facilities maintenance manager, an impending hurricane or tropical storm can be a nightmare situation. Fortunately, while you may not be able to stop hurricanes from hitting your area, there are steps you can take in preparation to minimize the damage to your facility, saving you precious time and money in repairs.
Getting the basics in order
While the EPA recommended calling 911 in the event of any emergency situation, chances are that in the event of a hurricane you'll need to largely rely on your own preparations. Carefully track the weather reports during hurricane season, and when you see that one is coming take a few basic steps to make your facility more secure. If your building doesn't have hurricane-proof windows or storm windows, Ready.gov recommended boarding them up with 5/8-inch plywood to prevent breakage from flying debris. Any trees or shrubs on site should be carefully and regularly trimmed, and any outdoor furniture or umbrellas should be securely stored inside, as stray tree limbs and patio furniture are among the primary offenders when it comes to damage to windows.
It's also important to have an understanding of your facility's geographic area, and how that could affect your risk of potential hurricane damage. If you're situated at a lower elevation, understand that you may be at much greater risk of flooding. If your area has a pre-determined hurricane evacuation route, it's important to know it and have it posted somewhere very visible in your facility. Make sure you and everyone else in your facility understands that in the event of an evacuation, plenty of time should be given to beat bad weather and flooding, and that routes should be followed exactly to avoid unmarked detours.