Tampa, FL – September 2, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) urges residents and businesses along the U.S. coastline from North Carolina to Maine to take steps now to minimize potential wind and water damage from Hurricane Earl.
On Monday, this powerful storm pummeled islands in the Caribbean tearing roofs off buildings and knocking down power lines and trees. As of Wednesday morning, Earl was a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, with sustained winds of 125 mph. Forecasters expect the storm to continue gaining strength as it runs parallel to the U.S. eastern seaboard, potentially affecting states from North Carolina to Maine.
Taking precautions now, before the hurricane arrives, should help reduce the amount of cleanup and repairs necessary after the storm passes. Here are some helpful measures home and business owners, who could be in the hurricane’s path, should take immediately, according to IBHS:
Protect windows and doors
Keeping wind and water out is critical to home survival, and shutters are the most effective way to protect windows and doors from wind-blown debris. If you have not already installed hurricane shutters, plywood can be used as a last minute alternative to help keep wind-driven rain from soaking the interior. IBHS recommends purchasing plywood that is at least 7/16-inch thick, and preferably 5/8-inch thick for maximum protection. It is critical that plywood be properly fastened (anchor installation guidelines can be found here) to be effective and to ensure it does not become wind-blown debris during the storm.
Prepare your yard
Coming home after a storm to find lawn furniture embedded in siding or sticking out of a window is sure to ruin anyone’s day. Remove all outdoor furniture, lawn items, planters and other materials that could be picked up by high winds. Trim trees and shrubbery and remove weak branches on plants and trees.
Use a high quality urethane-based caulk around outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall to prevent water penetration.
Implement business continuity plan
If you have already prepared an emergency plan in the event of a natural disaster, now is the time to put it into action. If you do not have a plan, take the following steps to help your business quickly recover from a disaster:
Verify employee, supplier and vendor contact information
Ask employees to update their contact information. This will help you check on their well being and communicate next steps for resuming normal business operations. Use the downtime before the storm hits to update your supplier and vendor contact information, as well as other important contacts, such as your bank or insurance carriers.
Prepare a recovery location
If possible, identify an alternative site for business operations should your facility be unavailable following the storm. Be sure the location is equipped with any special supplies or equipment that will be needed to continue business operations.
Secure your data
Be sure your vital records, data, and information are backed up and accessible should you not have access to your computers or network.
“Any time a hurricane is on its way, people in the potential path of that strong combination of wind and water should prepare themselves and their possessions to survive with minimal injury,” noted Julie Rochman, IBHS’ CEO and president. “The tips we are offering today are easy and essentially free, so there is no reason not to take these loss prevention actions.”
Further IBHS guidance for homeowners on storm preparation is available in its recently released publication, “Reducing Hurricane Risk: Residential” which provides strategies on how to reduce hurricane risk. The information is available electronically and in hard copy printed brochures in English and Spanish.
IBHS’ Open for Business® program helps small to mid-sized businesses reduce the potential for loss, should disaster strike, and prepare in advance to reopen quickly should they be forced to close. This creates savings for businesses and also benefits employees and customers who rely on businesses being open. A workbook to develop a business continuity plan is available free of charge in English and Spanish.
For more IBHS hurricane property protection information, visit www.DisasterSafety.org/hurricane.
About the IBHS
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices
Joseph King (813) 675-1045
jking (at) ibhs (dot) org