According to leading forecasters, the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be the most active since 2012. The Weather Channel predicts a total of 15 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes for the season, which runs from June 1 through November 30. The best offense against a hurricane is a sound emergency plan for both your home and office. We often talk about preparing our homes for such storms, but what about our offices and commercial properties?
A major hurricane can have an immediate impact on the local economy, so it is imperative that area businesses are up and running as soon as possible to mitigate this impact. Here are some tips on how you can work with your property management firm (such as Coldwell Banker Commercial SunCoast) to prepare your business and commercial space against the potential hazards of a hurricane or tropical storm.
Plan Early and Often
Preparing commercial office buildings, warehouses and shopping centers for storms is a year-round process. Planning with your property management firm should begin in January of each year, months before the threat of a hurricane is imminent. Here are some things to put on your to-do list:
Review Property Insurance
- Create a written hurricane plan on how to protect your business property and its contents during a hurricane.
- Inform employees of their specific responsibilities during a storm, as detailed in the hurricane plan.
- Specify the conditions that must be met for the hurricane plan to be implemented.
- Plan how to protect, back up and store your computer files and equipment.
- Review evacuation and emergency response procedures so everyone knows what to expect should an emergency occur.
- Create a communications plan that details how your property manager will communicate with key personnel before, during and after the storm. Make sure all contact information for staff is up to date.
Commercial property owners and managers should annually review a building’s property coverage and understand exactly what is covered in the event of a storm.
- Does your policy have limitations on coverage by a named tropical storm or hurricane?
- Do you have or need flood coverage?
- Do tenants have the insurance coverage required in their leases? Have they provided proof of this insurance (certificates of insurance) to the property manager?
- Locate and safeguard all important paperwork in advance to expedite quick settlement of claims.
Routine maintenance of trees, roof and gutters will help to ensure that your property is prepared to withstand the effects of a major storm or hurricane. However, there are a number of storm readiness activities that should also take place immediately once a named storm has formed.
Monitor and Communicate
- Trim trees to remove weakened or decaying limbs that could become projectiles in a high wind. Trim tree limbs away from structures to mitigate wind damage.
- Clean drains, gutters and downspouts to facilitate water flow during a storm.
- Remove antennas or loose objects from the roof.
- Secure all outdoor items such as display racks, signage, trash cans and storage sheds.
- Inspect windows, doors and roof to ensure they can withstand wind and water.
- Have fuel on hand for backup generators and test routinely to ensure they are in good operating order.
- Identify and secure commitments from vendors in advance to assist in repairs and clean up as needed.
- If a named storm has formed and is approaching, stay in contact with your property manager to determine if and when your property should be shut down and tenants and employees sent home.
- Many property management firms have a 24/7 call center that tenants can call to check on the status of the property and receive ongoing updates.
We cannot always predict the exact direction a storm might take, but we can take the steps needed to ensure that your business and property is prepared to withstand whatever might come your way. Ask your property management firm about its storm preparation plans. Protect your property and your investments and have the correct plan in place to ensure your business can continue to operate even under the most adverse conditions.
Grayson Powell is a Managing Partner at Coldwell Banker Commercial SunCoast. CBCSC leverages the vast experience of highly skilled real estate professionals and developers and specialize in selling, leasing and managing retail, commercial, and investment property. To learn more about CBCSC, visit www.cbcwilmington.com or call (910) 350-1200.