As Hurricane IRMA approaches the U.S., we wanted to make sure you are aware of important steps to stay safe and avoid damage.
Safety for Individuals
Create or review a disaster plan. Plan an evacuation route in advance and determine where you will go if told to evacuate.
Prepare a survival kit. Stock up on drinking water, non-perishable food, a first-aid kit and medicine for everyone including your pet. Include extra clothing, blankets, batteries, flashlights, a portable radio and cash.
Secure outdoor objects such as garbage cans and lawn furniture.
Review how to shut off utilities in an emergency.
During a heavy storm, power off and unplug electronics and appliances.
Locate important papers and documents, including your insurance policy and have them ready to take with you should you need to evacuate.
Leave promptly if ordered to evacuate.
Heavy rains have the potential to cause significant damage.
• Close and lock all windows and doors.
• Remove window air conditioners.
• Remove valuable items from your basement. If it’s not possible or practical to move some items, elevate them off the floor on pallets or concrete blocks.
• Clear exterior drains. Look for exterior drains at the bottom of basement stairs, in window wells, and anywhere sidewalks or driveways slope toward the foundation.
• Clear gutters of leaves and debris. This is also a good time to repair any damaged gutters.
• Make sure water can drain away from your foundation. Check that your downspouts have elbows and splash blocks to direct water away from the house.
• Check your sump pump. Pour water into the sump and verify that the pump is working properly. If it has a battery backup, test the battery backup by switching off the main power to the house at the circuit breaker.
Take extra precautions with portable generators.
Generators should be properly grounded and should never be operated indoors, in garages, basements or near windows or doors. Since generators produce carbon monoxide (CO), make sure you have working CO detector in your home. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet, which can “backfeed” into your home’s electrical system and endanger utility workers or anyone who comes near downed wires. Store generator fuel in an approved can away from the house, open flames and fuel-burning appliances such as natural gas appliances.
Safety for Businesses
The following precautions can help protect people and property and guard against disruption of operations:
Review your business continuity plan and communicate emergency evacuation and business interruption instructions to employees. If you don’t have a written plan, a template is available from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (http://disastersafety.org) An emergency plan includes a detailed procedure for evacuation, a checklist for shutting down processes and protecting buildings, contents and equipment, and yard storage. Procedures should include salvage instructions to follow post-event.
Back up critical data and computer records off-site so that operations can continue after a disaster. Consider keeping a backup generator and plenty of batteries on hand so your business can continue to operate after a power loss.
As a storm approaches, quick actions should to be taken to install temporary protection features including:
• Shutter or board up windows to protect them from flying debris.
• Clean out floor drains and catch basins to ensure maximum drainage.
• Anchor structures, trailers and yard storage so they are more likely to stay put in high winds.
• Fill emergency generator and fire pump fuel tanks.
• Shut down production processes safely.
• Shut off all flammable and combustible liquid and gas lines at their source.
• Shut off electrical power at the main building disconnect before the storm strikes.
Once the storm has subsided and it is safe to return, a salvage team should be assembled and repair work prioritized, assuring proper supplies are available and safety procedures followed.