Guide to hurricane emergency action plans
December 29, 2017
The devastation left in the wake of Harvey, Irma and Maria demonstrate why businesses need an up-to-date hurricane emergency action plan.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria left devastation in their wake: The economic toll of Harvey and Irma alone is projected at $290 billion.1 Although hurricanes and tropical storms cannot be avoided by businesses in their paths, planning for natural disasters can help companies build resilience and speed cleanup and recovery.
Here are some tips for developing a hurricane emergency action plan from Zurich’s Risk Engineers:
3 keys to an effective plan:
- Quick: It can be executed within 48 hours prior to a hurricane reaching landfall.
- Simple: It contains easy-to-follow checklists that guide action, provide reminders and increase efficiency.
- Practiced: It is tested regularly to assess and verify time, staff and resource needs; and it should be tailored to address conditions at the site.
5 critical time periods your plan should address:
- Before hurricane season begins
- 48 hours before hurricane landfall
- 36 hours before hurricane landfall
- During the hurricane
- After a hurricane
The sustained wind speed that means hurricane conditions are possible is 74 mph.
Watch vs. warning: Do you know the difference?
- Watch: Area may experience hurricane conditions within 48 hours.2
- Warning: Area may experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours.2
Pre-hurricane planning: What you can do now?
Review and inspect:
- Emergency plans
- Buildings, especially roofs
- Emergency power systems
- Emergency generators
- Dewatering pumps and sump pumps
- Hurricane supplies and equipment
Identify key people:
- Assign a designated person on-site, able to implement emergency action plans.
- Establish relationships with qualified contractors and supply vendors.
- Maintain contact with corporate management and insurance brokers.
Protect your company:
- Create emergency contact and evacuation contact information for employees.
- Identify and protect critical records and computer data.
- Verify locations of utility disconnects and establish shutoff plans.
Maintain awareness of developing and approaching hurricane activity by monitoring your local or national weather channels and websites.
1 AccuWeather. “AccuWeather predicts economic cost of Harvey, Irma to be $290 billion.” 11 September 2017. www.accuweather.com
2 “What is the difference between a watch and a warning?” National Ocean Service. Accessed 8 December 2017. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/watch-warning.html