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 of 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.
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