Preparing Your Buildings for a Natural Disaster

January 26, 2011

By Ray Dufresne

This month marks the first anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti—reminding us that natural disasters can happen without warning, often causing serious damage. Every day our global infrastructure is threatened with the potential of flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes and more.

And, while having a short-term emergency contingency plan for natural disasters is important, facility managers know that the cost of major unplanned repairs is typically higher than planned maintenance or capital renewal projects due to their more urgent nature.  Lack of planning is an expensive way to significantly slow down an organization’s ability to react post-disaster.

In the spirit of disaster preparedness, facility managers need to think about:

  • Documenting the condition of your buildings’ “vital organs,” including fire, gas and water valves, elevators, storage tanks and any generators.
  • Cataloging your buildings’ equipment and furniture to help you recover faster and aid your insurance claims.
  • Reinforcing your property by adding generators if your operations cannot survive without electricity, fortifying the windows if a hurricane is on its way, moving valuable equipment away from the ground floors if you expect a flood, etc.

Having this type of accurate information in a centralized place can increase your response time in the days, weeks, and even months following a disaster. But, it is only the first major step in being prepared to respond.

What challenges have you encountered in your disaster preparedness efforts? How have you addressed them?

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