Hurricane season on the Atlantic and Gulf coast runs from June 1st through November 30th each year. The peak of the season tends to be in August and September. What this means for building owners, operators, and maintenance professionals is that it's time to put in a bit of work with regards to building, roof, and equipment supports to make certain commercial buildings are prepared for the potential storms ahead. While every structure will have different steps that must be taken to protect it, we’ve put together a few points you may want to consider as you prepare for potential inclement weather.
1. Support and Anchor Roof Equipment
Pipes, cable, and other roof equipment should be properly supported and anchored in place. It is important to realize that a higher-level of an anchor may be needed than you would think. Durable steel cable is a better choice than a nylon strap, for instance.
2. Check Local Code
Contact your local government to find out what standards are required to keep your roof up to code. In the high-risk regions, such as the Gulf Coast, roofs may need to be designed by a professional engineer or they may need to be maintained on a strict basis. If your roof is not up to code, make changes now—it can help prevent issues with obtaining insurance payment in the future.
3. Identify Wind Loads
Understanding exactly how much wind your roof, and building, can take is not always an easy task. The ASCE 7-10 Building Standard for Wind Loads is a good place to look for identifying this.
4. Consider Added Stability
Beyond your traditional roof and equipment supports, you may want to add additional stability in the form of tie downs. For correct installation, these will need roof membrane penetration. Another option is a ballast system that can transfer the weight directly to the building itself.
5. Regular Maintenance Can Pay Off
Cleaning gutters and downspouts on a regular basis and completing other “basic” maintenance tasks may not seem like it would have a big effect on how a building would survive a hurricane, but it can. Completing these simple tasks can help you discover major structural problems ahead of time—allowing you to prepare better for a storm.
6. Prepare When a Storm is Imminent
If a hurricane is predicted to make landfall in a nearby region, it is worthwhile to spend some time preparing the building. Removing antennas or other loose objects from the roof is a good first step. Additionally, you will want to secure swinging signs and place boards across windows, if possible.
While it may be impossible to plan for every contingency in regards to a hurricane, putting in some time and effort ahead of time can save you money AND time in case a major storm hits. Remember, these are just a few ways that you can protect your building and equipment, so depending on your particular situation, it may be worth looking into other options too.