Facilities that proactively plan and prepare for hurricane-related challenges safeguard lives, limit damage to assets, and reduce or avoid production downtime. While each storm is unique, here are some fundamental steps based on FEMA guidelines that you can take to reduce risks of flooding, high winds, power outages, and other disruptions.

Steps to Prepare for Hurricanes (based on FEMA guidelines)

Perhaps the most important way you can prepare is by establishing a planning team. This team should assess your plant’s specific vulnerabilities and insurance coverage, then develop a comprehensive plan that includes the following:

  1. Establish protocols and procedures related to protecting employee safety, including creating (and communicating) an evacuation plan.
  2. Acquire any necessary emergency backup power, supplies, and spare parts.
  3. Develop clear shutdown and restart protocols and communicate these procedures to team members in writing. All operators should understand when and how to safely shut down and start up operations.
  4. Ensure emergency communication systems and backup systems are in place. Remember to update contact lists.
  5. Develop procedures to quickly and safely shut down utilities, including oxygen, air, nitrogen, and natural gas. If a storm is headed your way, close natural gas supply valves ahead of the equipment, and isolate power to outdoor control panels by shutting off circuit breakers and MCC disconnects. Close water supply valves to the equipment as well.
  6. Create special procedures to prepare for flood and wind risks (more below). Conduct a storm-safety check of your systems, and attend to any loose or unsecured components, lightweight tanks/equipment, and weatherproofing vulnerabilities.
  7. Plan for likely pre-, during, and post-emergency scenarios. (Be prepared to continue critical process operations with one of our easy-to-use, portable rental oxidizers.)
  8. Track storm updates.

Biggest Hurricane Challenges

Flooding:  Historically, flooding has been perhaps the biggest obstacle to resuming operations. To prepare, place critical records, key equipment, and inventory in higher locations. If possible, install protective barriers and waterproof closures. 

High Winds:  Reinforce roof and siding panels, cover windows and doors, anchor tanks, and remove any loose or lightweight objects from your site. Securely fasten all access doors and junction boxes.

Loss of Power:  Prepare some form of emergency backup power; consider investing in backup systems such as diesel generators, non-electric water pumps, and battery-powered lighting. 

Communication:  Ensure you have several methods of communication with management, suppliers, customers, and employees during and after severe weather.  Also, be sure you are able to access emergency response updates and resources.

Know where to seek assistance and collaborate with relevant agencies and organizations for support. Leveraging federal, state, and local resources can greatly assist you in your planning and preparation efforts. Refer to the summary table below for key steps outlined by FEMA, and download the NFPA Emergency Preparedness checklist here.

Preparation is key – start planning today!

Important Note:

This piece is neither intended, nor should it be relied upon, to take the place of professional consultation or services. Furthermore, its content does not necessarily represent the official position of FEMA, NFPA, or any other third-party source.