There are many variables to consider when a disaster strikes your place of business . Your first thought is for the safety of all concerned. Disasters can knock you down for a bit, but how quickly can you recover and at what cost? There are steps that can be taken before and in the midst of a disaster that can help your business recover more quickly and also help mitigate the potential losses. Planning for a disaster helps guide you through those steps.
Below are some simple steps or “immediate measures” that can be taken to limit the damage to your business or property after a disaster and before the contractors get there.
The basic actions you take may depend on a variety factors (cause and condition), but there are some general rules that can be applied to practically all types of damage:
- Life safety issues should always be addressed prior to beginning any property recovery.
- Shore up, secure and/or evacuate all areas in danger of collapse.
- Secure the scene to prevent unauthorized entry.
- Install protection barriers or secondary containment systems to prevent pollutants from slowing into drains or absorbing into the soil.
- Switch off all equipment immediately. Do not reconnect them, even for test purposes, until it is safe to do so.
- Shut down all systems – power, water, gas, compressed air supply and air conditioning systems. Do not reconnect them until it is safe to do so.
- Document the damage with photographs and written records.
- Extract water as quickly as possible to stop water-related damage which cannot be reversed (i.e., swelling, discoloration).
- Remove soaked objects (furniture, curtains, floor coverings, etc.).
- Apply corrosion prevention agents to protect and preserve technical equipment, electronics and machinery.
- If walls, floors and ceilings are very wet or totally saturated, demolition or special drying efforts are essential.
- Reduce the relative humidity to less than 40% as quickly as possible to slow down the corrosion process and discourage mold growth.
- Raise furniture and insert plastic wedges or Styrofoam blocks underneath to prevent moisture wicking up from below.
- Begin drying as soon as possible with desiccant or refrigerant dehumidifiers. Use a professional for these services as some items can be damaged by inappropriate drying techniques.
- Pack books and documents in a cardboard box lined with a plastic trash bag.
- For valuable items and bound materials, use a wax paper sling to prevent color transfer.
- Maintain a good inventory of wet materials.
- Freeze any wet books or documents as quickly as possible. A refrigerator freezer or upright/chest freezer is acceptable.
- Switch off and do not operate equipment or electronic devices (if possible). Dust contaminants can cause increased wear to moving parts, overheating and abrasive damage.
- If damage is caused by a type ABC powder extinguishing agent, attempt to maintain humidity levels below 40% to minimize corrosion.
- Open doors and windows to air out facility. Turn on fans/install fans to assist.
- Organize a fire watch.
- Cover facilities, machines and equipment as long as extinguishing water is flowing or dripping.
- Pump out or extract residual extinguishing water into tanks for temporary storage.
- Remove objects soaked by water (furniture, curtains, floor coverings, etc.)
- Place electronic devices, machines, stock and inventory in dry storage.
- To minimize further corrosion, try to keep the relative humidity at less than 40% in the room or inside polyethylene sheeting tents erected to protect valuable items (machinery, etc.). Blow in dry air or set up an air dehumidifier.
- Apply corrosion prevention agents to machinery and technical equipment.
- Safeguard unaffected areas.
Planning ahead with a reputable property restoration company is also a good idea. As an insured through The Armstrong Company Insurance Consultants, there exists a preferred recovery partner, BELFOR Property Restoration. In the event of a catastrophic loss or an unexpected loss, The Armstrong Company and BELFOR are both with you and your business before, during and after a disaster.
BELFOR Global is the world leader in disaster recovery and property restoration. Knowing how to put lives and buildings back together quickly involves specialized skills, technologies, and experience.
The Armstrong Company Insurance Consultants (License #0440075)