When a major storm is heading your way, you will need to act quickly to secure the common areas of your property. Below is an outline for you to use to secure your common areas efficiently and, hopefully, minimize any property damage.
First, identify any likely projectiles that could damage the buildings. Haul away all debris, secure dumpsters and tie down the lids, and tighten any loose signs and lighting fixtures. Remove access gate arms and place swing gates in open position, then shut off power. Check that all exhaust fans, wind turbines and air conditioning units are tightly fastened to the roof or ground. If you have construction on the property, work with the contractor to clean up the site, remove scaffolding and take steps to minimize water and wind damage.
Cover glass doors and windows with boards, if possible.
Bring in any decorations, flags, unsecured trash cans, outdoor furnishings (check the pool area!), removable signs, satellites, canopies, portable storage units or shelters, umbrellas and antennas, particularly those on the roof or balconies. Do not store anything in the pool, advises Lorraine Megdanis of Presentation Dynamics.
Cut off power to the pool or spa area and all other pumps. Store the pool pump motor somewhere safe and dry. “Safe and dry” can be imitated by wrapping the motor in a thick plastic material, such as a construction-grade plastic bag, and securing it with water-safe tape. Make sure to cover the pump as well, if it is exposed. In the pool, reduce the water level by at least two feet and add extra chlorine to reduce contamination risk.
For generators, follow the appropriate protocol for the type you have. For a fuel-powered generator, wait to fill the tank until just prior to a hurricane to keep the fuel from becoming stale or creating a hazard. For battery-powered generators, charge the batteries so they have full power. Keep portable generators dry and check gas supplies to keep them fueled. Store fuel in proper containers and add fuel mix to prevent condensation.
Now, cut power at the breaker to cooling towers and pump motors. Add chemicals to the towers as indicated in their manuals to prevent sitting water from growing stale.
Set elevators so that they automatically recall to a middle floor to avoid flooding on the ground floor and water leakage on top floors. Block any vents or other openings at the top of the elevator shaft to minimize water damage. After closing the elevator doors, turn off the elevator switch prior to the power cutting out. Lock the door to the elevator room.
Ensure electrical room doors remain unlocked so safety personnel can get to them as necessary. Shut off all water features, drinking fountains and irrigation systems. Inspect sewage pumping systems and storm drains and clean them, if needed, to ensure that they can handle the water a major storm will bring.
Power off lights and unplug equipment in all recreational areas. Turn off vending machines and appliances except refrigerators to prevent a circuit overload when power is restored. Wrap all audio-visual equipment and computers in waterproof packaging or store them in a safe, dry place. Plug and fill sinks in common areas with water. If your property includes a marina, move boats to dry dock or ensure they are well secured.
Back up any new or critical data to a cloud account. Relocate office equipment and files away from windows and to interior rooms, if possible, and raise them off the floor. Remove loose pictures from walls and box up all plants, small office supplies and desk items. Unplug and cover or remove computers and other electrical office equipment. Record a voice mail saying the property is closed for the storm or forward calls. Follow directions from local utilities to cut of water, gas and electricity, if so instructed. Place a “Closed” sign on every door and lock all doors and windows.
Finally, ensure all employees and tenants have evacuated. Then, take the photos or video of your property and equipment you shot when preparing for the season, as well as your emergency preparedness notebook with employee, tenant, property, financial and insurance information (see first blog) and any critical information or materials that have not been uploaded to a back-up site or the cloud, and move to your pre-defined emergency staging area.
Check back for our next hurricane post for what to do after the storm passes!