Preparing your workplace for natural disasters is a must, especially if you live in an area prone to hurricanes. Weather is unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be ready for emergency situations. The office building is at risk, but so are employees, customers, expensive equipment, and important documents. Protect your office from hurricane damage with these helpful safety tips.
Have a Plan
Having a clear plan that outlines specific tasks for designated employees and department heads — plus training for everyone to know who’s in charge of what — can be the key to keeping your company calm during a scary situation. Keep both a written and electronic copy of your evacuation plan.
Emphasize with your team the importance of being prepared to evacuate by remembering the Five Ps: People, Prescriptions, Papers, Personal Needs, and Priceless Items. Maintain an updated employee directory with phone numbers and contact information and distribute to each department head.
The National Weather Service rates hurricanes on a scale from 1 to 5, and no matter if it’s a watch or a warning, a Level 1 or a Level 5, you want to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Know the evacuation routes not only for your building, but also in your area. Sign up for community notifications and text alerts so you know what is going on outside your four walls.
Create a Disaster Supply Kit
A disaster supply kit is necessary to have on hand at the office. It should include everything from cleaning supplies and flashlights to non-perishable foods and eating utensils in quantities that correspond to the average number of people in your building at a given time. Compiling a kit offers comfort and safety should a hurricane turn for the worse.
Other items to include:
First aid kit
Manual can opener
Protecting Your Computer
Chances are your workplace is filled with laptops and desktop computers of all kinds. To keep them protected from hurricane damage, back up data in both hard and digital versions, and make sure at least one form of backup isn’t physically located at your office.
If a hurricane is eminent, then shut down your computer and turn off your monitor and printer. Unplug all power cords and network cables from devices and the walls to protect your technology from any surges that may happen when power is restored. If your computer is near a window, then move it, or cover it with a garbage bag in case water comes in during the storm.
In addition to protecting your computer, it’s important to put plans in place for furniture protection. The idea here is to keep water out. Start by stocking up on necessary items in non-hurricane season so you aren’t rushing to find what you need during an impending storm. Heavy-duty plastic sheeting can cover equipment and machines if the roof is damaged or leaks, sandbags prevent water from seeping in through doorways, and a toolbox filled with heavy-duty nails and a hammer comes in handy for affixing plywood boards to windows.
Protecting the Office
Don’t forget these other important to-dos when a hurricane is approaching:
Anchor large furniture, such as desks, bookcases, and cabinets.
Relocate valuable items to a safe location (a fireproof safe).
Check the perimeter of the building, and remove any branches or trees that could damage the building if they fall.
Turn off all utilities.
After the Storm
When your office makes it through the storm, first check in with all employees to ensure they are safe. Next, take photos of any damage, and record property damage for filing insurance claims. Contact your local building inspector to establish reentry permission for employees or requirements for rebuilding.