Mutual Matters

Hurricane Preparedness

Posted by Ruth Wood, MBA, CPHRM on Sep 13, 2018 9:00:47 AM

It’s never too late to prepare for a hurricane or other natural disaster.  While not every eventuality can be anticipated, there are steps you can take that will give your practice the best chance of returning to normal operations as quickly and completely as possible after a natural disaster.

Characteristics of a Hurricane

The hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th though it’s not atypical for a hurricane to occur outside that timeframe. When a tropical cyclone’s surface wind speed exceeds 74 mph, it is classified as a hurricane. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale estimates potential property damage based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed.  It uses a 1 to 5 rating scale with a Category 1 producing very dangerous winds and some damage to a Category 5 producing winds at or above 157 mph and causing catastrophic damage.

Areas in the path of a hurricane can expect storm surges, heavy rainfall, flooding, and high winds.  A storm surge is an above-normal rise in sea level and can be the deadliest aspect of a hurricane.  Surges can reach heights of over 20 feet above normal and spread several miles inland.  Most buildings and roads in the path of a significant storm surge will be destroyed.  Heavy rainfall and flooding is the most significant threat for inland and urban areas.  Intense periods of rain can cause flash flooding, making roads impassable, and forcing water into local buildings.  High winds can uproot trees and send debris flying into the air, creating dangerous conditions for anyone not safely sheltered.

Stay Updated and Informed

When you become aware of an approaching hurricane, it is important to continually check local and state weather announcements.  This type of natural disaster usually allows for ample time to prepare and evacuate when necessary. Be prepared to receive information via multiple sources, such as TV, radio, internet, validated social media sources, phone apps, etc. Having multiple sources of information available can help you continue to receive important information in cases of power loss or other service outage.

Always follow instructions from the local and state authorities.  If you are directed to evacuate, do so promptly for your safety and the safety of others.

In addition to local and state weather channels/announcements, information about upcoming storms can be obtained through the National Hurricane Center.

To obtain state-specific logistical information such as evacuations, shelters, closings, lane reversals, etc. visit the Emergency Management Division website for your state.  A list of all states and their websites can be found at Emergency Management Agency.

Preparedness, Response & Recovery

Planning ahead is critical when it comes to protecting your business during a disaster or other emergency situation. A well-devised response plan will also minimize the impact of disasters on your business and help you recover more quickly.

To prepare for a disaster, the toolkit provides information on establishing and activating emergency action plans, ensuring appropriate insurance coverage, defining emergency response roles, maintaining critical contact lists, standardizing communication methods, along with itemizing and safeguarding key elements for continuity of operations.

During a response phase, the toolkit focuses on establishing priorities, maintaining communications, and determining clinical operational status based on damage and potential hazards.  When recovering from a disaster, the toolkit provides guidance on documenting damages and losses, taking steps to restore services, performing after-action debriefings, and providing support to those affected by the disaster.

Additional Resources

 

MagMutual policyholders can access our Disaster Recovery Toolkit and information on how to report a claim by clicking below. 

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