Natural disasters can wreak havoc on commercial facilities. Damages can be both short and long-term, impacting personnel and property alike.
But many of these impacts can be mitigated or even eliminated with the right prevention and response.
Following are 6 key steps that facility managers and property owners can take to significantly minimize the damage and impact caused by natural disasters on their property and businesses.
1. Pre-Disaster Planning
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s just a simple fact. So, while most of this guide will explain how to handle damages once they occur, we couldn’t skip the first and most important step – prevention and pre-planning.
A comprehensive disaster response plan is the first line of defense against the chaos caused by natural disasters. This plan should identify potential threats based on your geographical location and facility type. Establish clear evacuation routes and ensure they are well-marked and free of obstructions. Regularly conduct drills to train staff on emergency procedures, ensuring everyone knows their role during a crisis.
2. Facility Protection
Once everyone’s safety is ensured, focus on securing the facility to prevent further damage.
This could involve shutting off utilities to prevent electrical fires or gas leaks. Board up windows to protect against broken glass and wind damage. If possible, relocate valuable equipment to higher floors or off-site to protect assets against flood damage.
3. Damage Documentation
When a disaster has struck, thoroughly documenting the damage is crucial for insurance claims and recovery efforts.
Take photographs from multiple angles and write detailed descriptions of the damage. Include the date, time, and location of each photograph for reference. This documentation will serve as evidence for your insurance company, helping expedite your claims process and ensuring you receive fair compensation.
4. Cleanup and Restoration
Begin cleanup as soon as it’s safe to do so. Remove debris to prevent tripping hazards and allow for easier access to damaged areas.
If water damage has occurred, start drying out the area as soon as possible to prevent mold growth – a task that may require professional equipment like dehumidifiers or air movers. It is important to be thorough in this process, as mold can grow unseen and be left undiscovered until the problem (and health impact) becomes severe. Even a little bit of dampness can begin mold growth.
For extensive damage, consider hiring professional restoration services. These experts can handle tasks like mold remediation, structural repairs, and smoke cleanup more efficiently and safely than untrained staff.
5. Business Continuity
Implementing a business continuity plan can help minimize downtime.
This could involve setting up temporary workspaces in unaffected areas of the facility or at a secondary location. Utilize cloud technology to access essential data and keep communication lines open.
6. Post-Disaster Review
After recovery, review your disaster response plan in light of recent events. Identify what worked well and what didn’t, and make necessary adjustments. Continuous improvement is key to effective disaster management.
Remember, while we can’t prevent natural disasters, we can control our response to them. By being proactive and prepared, we can minimize damage and ensure our commercial facilities recover as quickly as possible.
At AHI Facility Services, Inc., we offer a wide variety of facility services, including water restoration services after water damage has occurred. If you need help managing the care or maintenance of your facility, especially after a natural disaster, give us a call today.