Hurricane Preparedness- Philadelphia Insurance Companies

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Hurricane season in North America runs from June 1st to November 30th, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends anyone living in the eastern half of the United States should be prepared. From Texas to Maine, every costal state along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico has been affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. Even inland states like Arkansas and Tennessee aren't immune. With that in mind, PHLY recommends the following tips and resources to help you and your organization prepare for hurricanes and tropical storms:

Before the threat of a hurricane

  • Plan now for the possibility of a hurricane or tropical storm striking your area
  • Your emergency response plan should include options for evacuation, operating offsite, and sheltering in place
  • Establish a plan for communicating with your employees, clients, and other key stakeholders - both from your existing location and from potential offsite locations
  • Prior to any storm, inspect and take action to fully seal your building envelope (roof, flashing, windows, exterior walls, and doors). Enlist qualified roofers and other contractors now. Maintenance and repairs now can help head off larger issues following a storm. Also, roofers and other contractors will be much more available before a storm than afterward
  • For any vacant/unoccupied buildings, continue to manage your inspection and maintenance procedures. Review PHLY's Risk Management for Vacant or Unoccupied Buildings blog for more tips
  • Equip buildings with a system that can monitor for water intrusion. PHLYSense is PHLY's no-cost property monitoring sensor system that can provide alerts in the presence of water or hazardous temperatures. Since the sensors work on battery power, they can still provide protection if the power goes out. Before a storm, they can provide insight into small leaks that can be addressed before they become a larger problem during inclement weather. While this system is meant to provide real-time, actionable alerts, during a hurricane or other dangerous storm it's important to remember to stay safe and only attend to the issue if it is safe. The alerts can help you manage where to focus your damage mitigation efforts when the storm has passed.
  • Ensure proper water drainage from roofs and ground areas - especially next to your buildings
  • Secure emergency generators from third party suppliers well ahead of a storm
  • Practice and drill for weather emergencies

When there's a threat of a hurricane

  • Lift up any appliances, electronics, and computer equipment off the floor (in case of flooding) and secure plastic tarps over all computer equipment and other valuables that are susceptible to water
  • Roll up rugs and get them off the floor
  • Make sure sump pumps are fully operational and batteries are charged (if applicable)
  • Prior to leaving the building, shut off electrical service to the main breaker, if the electrical system and outlets could come under water. But, if you need electrical service for other emergency purposes, it is typically best to leave your electrical service on
  • Remove any debris or outside items that could damage property by becoming airborne
  • Secure all windows and exterior doors
  • Secure tarps and plywood
  • Identify a water remediation vendor that is qualified, licensed, bonded, and insured (PHLY has recommendations for restoration contractors)

Following a storm

According to the National Weather Service, the following are important steps to follow after the storm has passed:

  • Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building, if the building was damaged by fire, or if the authorities have not declared it safe
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms in areas dealing with power outages. Never use a portable generator inside a building. Review generator safety from the CDC
  • Walk carefully around the outside to check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage
  • Use battery-powered flashlights. Do NOT use candles. Turn on your flashlight before entering a vacated building. The battery could produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas if present
  • After safely assessing damages, coordinate efforts with your insurance agent and with PHLY Claims

Protecting your drivers and your fleet

Once the danger of a hurricane has been declared near your area of operations, it's important to keep track of where your employees and vehicles are in relation to the danger. Global positioning system (GPS) devices and their software can be a powerful tool in planning, managing, and responding to operational changes as needed to keep drivers safe and vehicles protected. These telematics systems could include features such as:

  • Geofencing: The system sends an alert if a vehicle enters, or leaves, a set area (geofence)
  • Live Map Feed: See where vehicles on the system are located in real time on a map
  • Landmarks: Receive an alert if a vehicle approaches a set address within a given radius
  • Unauthorized Usage: Set specific times vehicles are allowed to be on the road, and get alerts if a vehicle is turned on outside of the authorized time

PHLYTrac is Philadelphia Insurance's (PHLY's) telematics solution that includes these and many more features. This service is provided to insureds with auto coverage with PHLY, at no additional cost.

Additional Resources

The following are additional resources from PHLY and other professionals to include when reviewing your preparedness plan:

With the prevalence of storm tracking and live look-ins, hurricanes may seem "routine." However, for those involved, there is nothing ordinary about hurricanes and tropical storms. By planning ahead and taking smart, timely action, you can help your organization and personnel weather storms safely.

IMPORTANT NOTICE - The information and suggestions presented by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company are for your consideration in your loss prevention efforts. They are not intended to be complete or definitive in identifying all hazards associated with your business, preventing workplace accidents, or complying with any safety related, or other, laws or regulations. You are encouraged to alter them to fit the specific hazards of your business and to have your legal counsel review all of your plans and company policies.

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