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Disaster prevention, planning check list

wear, holes, openings where water can enter, loose materials that can be caught by the wind. Check for “bats in your belfry” and “skeletons in your closet and basements.” Critters love to make their homes in those secret places and leave offerings behind for you to deal with later. Bat guano has been found in courthouse attics measured in feet of depth. Check for loose, damaged or missing soffit, fascia and siding. Check gutters and downspouts to make sure they are properly secured to the building. Make sure fences, equipment covers and other protective systems are in place and in good condition. Inspect windows and doors for tight fitting seals and weather-strip-


ping. Repair and caulk as needed. Implement an outright ban on open flames such as candles and smoking. Severely limit or ban the uses of electric space heaters. Make certain enough fire extinguishers are present, staff is educated on their use and they are inspected regularly. Ask local city, county or state building and fire inspectors to conduct an inspection of your facilities. Follow and implement their recommen- dations.

Establish a regular building security routine.

more likely to clog them. Clear all obstructions immediately. Always inspect again immediately after a storm or wind event. Check grate drains, swales, ditches, floor drains, sump pumps and all other devices and systems designed to remove and or control water within and around the perimeter of the structure. Check at least monthly and always inspect again immediately following a storm, flood or wind event. Floor drains around water heaters and heating systems in mechanical rooms tend to get overlooked, and clog up with debris from workmen and cleaning personnel.


not to run the entire operation, at least to run critical systems. Consider the addition of a security and access alarm system.

Don’t get flushed Have a licensed plumber or mechanical contractor inspect plumbing systems on a yearly basis. Repair any damage or high- risk situations immediately. Tat pesky urinal flush valve that sticks will stick and flood your entire building eventually, if you continue to ignore it. Automatic devices that shut off the flow of water in the event of such events are available from plumbing contractors. Make sure all key staff is aware of the location of water shut-off valves and understands how to operate them.

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Power up Have the main electrical panels and sub panels, electrical ser- vice entrance, main disconnects and other major components of the electrical system inspected by a licensed electrician at least once each year. Repair any damage or high-risk situations immediately. Consider the addition of an automatic generator backup system, if

Check the drainage Inspect gutter and downspout systems at least four times each year, and more in the fall and spring when leaves and debris are

Inspect and control the envelope, your own staff

behavior and check the “secret places”… Inspect roof systems on at least an annual basis, look for

ter pipes, failure of information technology systems and if nothing else, make everyone uncomfortable and unproductive. Have these systems checked at least twice each year, before heating and cooling seasons.

to the survival of almost any organization. Review and test your plan on a regular basis. Store all hard copy documents at least 6” above the floor or ground. If flooding has occurred before in a particular structure, store such items above the highest previous level or at another location. Label vital and historical records appropriately.

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tions in mind where temporary operations could be set up, such as empty school buildings or perhaps the old Wal-Mart (every town has one, right?)

the Better Business Bureau and check up on them. Visit their facili- ties and meet their staff. Make a decision regarding who your “go-to” contractor will be. Consider having that contractor come and visit and inspect your facilities to become familiar with your operations.

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Be sure that all key staff has a copy of the plan both on and off-site. Re- view the plan on a annual basis. Be absolutely certain that 24 hour/365 day contact information is quickly available to all staff to contact all resources that may be needed. Maintain and update this database. Educate and communicate Practice implementation of the plan with all key staff members. De-

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velop a “phone tree” for communicating during a disaster. Hold drills so everyone understands their role. Develop alternate communication methods such as radios, in the event standard communications are lost. Develop and practice evacuation plans, know where emergency shelters are and educate staff about these. Post evacuation signs and install

emergency battery backup lighting.

Editor’s note: Metro Disaster Specialists submitted the “Top 10 Disaster planning and checklist” in an effort to assist individual counties in the process of preventing and managing facility disasters. Metro Specialists managed the AAC’s massive water leak earlier this year. Metro is ranked among the nation’s top ten insurance restoration contractors in both the Qualified Remodelers and Remodeling Magazine – August 2012.


Write all this down somewhere! Develop a comprehensive disaster response plan tailored to your specific needs, geographic location and type of operation.

Know where to go Despite your best efforts, a storm, flood or other event could render your facility unusable. Have at least two alternate loca-

Know who to call Pre-select all of your critical outside resources. Get to know local disaster response contractors, check their references, call

Stay cool! (or warm) Failure of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems (HVAC) can result in a loss of use, freezing and bursting of wa-

Back it up! Be certain your backup systems for critical information are in place and functional. An off-site back up of data is CRITICAL

Top 10

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