In August and September, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria wreaked havoc in Texas, Florida1 and Puerto Rico,2 respectively, causing an estimated $362 billion worth of damage. While preparation may not provide complete protection, commercial-property owners and managers in areas prone to hurricanes — as well as earthquakes or other natural disasters — can mitigate property damage and personal-safety risks by taking precautions long before disaster strikes.
The primary way to ensure sufficient preparation for a natural disaster is to hire a licensed inspector to assess the threat your building faces. Owners and property managers may not realize that completing a hurricane or seismic retrofit before it’s needed is typically less expensive than making major structural repairs after the fact.3
Building managers should also review their property-insurance policy to ensure their buildings are adequately covered against major storm or seismic damage. Taking photographs or recording videos of the property before they’re damaged can be helpful when substantiating insurance claims afterward.
Proper education is key for protecting the safety and well-being of building occupants. Owners and property managers should remind tenants about emergency policies and procedures so they know how to respond. This includes informing building employees of their roles during and after an emergency so that they can respond swiftly and appropriately.
In addition to taking these steps, you can reference the following safety checklists in the event of a hurricane or earthquake.
Hurricane Safety Checklist
As soon as a hurricane warning is issued, check the interior and exterior of your commercial building and take the following steps to protect lives and property:
Earthquake Safety Checklist
Earthquakes largely occur without warning, but taking the following steps before one hits can prevent additional damage and expense4:
When it comes to natural disasters, advance planning is critical, and that includes ensuring that a building’s interior and exterior ceilings are up to code. USG offers a range of wind-resistant and seismic-compliant ceilings solutions to meet these needs:
Disclaimer: The information presented is correct to the best of our knowledge at the date of issuance. Because codes continue to evolve, check with a local official prior to designing and installing a ceiling system. Other restrictions and exemptions may apply. This is only intended as a quick reference.
1 “Forecast Predicts Heavy Economic Damage from Harvey, Irma,” U.S. News & World Report, 11 Sept. 2017, https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2017-09-11/irma-harvey-forecast-to-do-290-billion-in-economic-damage.
2 “Puerto Rico’s Losses From Hurricane Maria May Top $72 Billion,” Fortune, 26 Sept. 2017, http://fortune.com/2017/09/26/hurricane-maria-puerto-rico-loses.
3 California Seismic Safety Commission, Commercial Property Owner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety, 2006, http://www.seismic.ca.gov/pub/CSSC_2006-02_COG.pdf.