Having worked in property restoration for over 21 years, I am often asked the same question by folks who manage buildings and their infrastructure: “How do I actually prepare for a massive disaster in my building?” Living in the middle of the pacific we are exposed to a myriad of potential events including:

  • Hurricanes
  • Earthquakes
  • Large Fires
  • Catastrophic Mechanical Failures

A majority of these events are simply unpreventable, and the effort that goes into adequately preparing for such events is huge. There are, however, a few things that you can be aware of that will help reduce the severity of any one of these events when it inevitably happens. Over the years, disaster planning has become associated with an endless set of three-ring binders filled with a plethora of “what-if” information to be employed when emergency events occur. But reams of printed paper are rarely the first place that building occupants or managers turn to in the event of an emergency. During an emergency, you turn to a person, usually a very specific person who has intimate knowledge of the building’s systems and infrastructure, someone like a resident manager, site manager or member of your engineering department. This trusted expert becomes that endless set of information in the event of an emergency. While it is important to have someone on-call with this type of specific knowledge, designating another person who knows the ins-and-outs of the 

Where the traditional disaster plan has its merits is in providing a checklist of steps to follow in the event of an emergency, it’s rarely where you turn when a hurricane is bearing down on you. We find that cross training staff on critical building systems and condensing that disaster plan on to a one page, event specific checklist is more than practical and well within the reach of the average building. Below is an example checklist for a hurricane event to get fire up your creative disaster planning muscles.

Hurricanes

24 Hours Before Landfall

  • Advise building occupants of the following
    • Any building closures
    • To move any items adjacent to windows away from windows and to remove all lanai furniture and fixtures
    • Unplug any sensitive electronics
    • Move their car from the ground floor (if applicable)
  • Test any building security measures you intend on utilizing during the hurricane
  • Double check that any roof mounted mechanical systems are secured
  • Remove and secure any pool furniture or any other items that are not permanently secured outside
  • Back up any data offsite
  • Ensure storm and roof drains are clear of any debris
  • Test backup communication systems
  • Place sandbags to prevent building flooding

4 Hours Before Landfall

  • De-energize any non-critical electrical building systems
  • Turn off water supply
  • Send non-essential staff home
  • Secure the building
  • Monitor News
  • Get indoors and stay indoors

After the all clear has been sounded

  • Inspect critical building systems to ensure they are operational & turn on any that you have turned off
    • Power
    • Water
    • Entrance systems
    • Fire Alarms
    • Elevators
    • Mechanical Systems
  • Inspect the building envelope for any signs of physical damage and document
  • Board up any broken windows
  • Mitigate any water damage sustained to prevent mold growth

A little can go a long way in preventing property damage from occurring. While it is common to feel defeated before you even start when it comes to prevention, a few small well-executed steps can help tremendously in preventing your next building calamity. 

In the event of a Hurricane, Premier Restoration Hawaii is available 24/7 to respond and can dispatch teams immediately following civil defense issued "all clear" on Oahu, Hawai'i Island, Kauai and within Maui County (Including Lanai and Molokai).   Our readiness & capacity to provide true, 24/7 emergency response in the event of a Hurricane makes us Hawaii's only restoration contractor with physical locations on every major Island.

24/7 EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Oahu: 808-694-3552

Maui: 808-873-8886

Hawai’iIsland: 808-326-4746

Kauai: 808-246-0405

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Article for the May 2021 Issue of Building Management Hawai'i by Premier Restoration Hawaii President, Anthony Nelson