Hurricane season begins on June 1st, which means it’s well past time for contractors to start thinking about how to keep their construction sites secure in case of a hurricane, tropical storm or even a tropical depression. Construction companies need to prepare for the worst when storms pose a threat to their jobsites, and preparing your jobsite for hurricane season can help you develop a plan for dealing with the ramifications after a storm passes.
Make your site’s hurricane preparation plan
The first step in getting ready for a hurricane comes before there’s even one on the way. It’s important that all construction companies in hurricane-prone areas have a written hurricane preparation plan, whether it’s a detailed step-by-step or just a memo to assign everyone on the project a task to complete in advance of the storm.
Keep an eye on the weather
It’s never a bad idea to regularly check the weather, even when there hasn’t been a hurricane risk announcement. Online websites like The Weather Channel and Accuweather will have the latest severe weather alerts posted almost immediately.
Weather radios might be a worthwhile investment as well. These devices are configured to receive weather reports and are often equipped with alert capabilities that can be set to sound an audible alert if there is a severe weather event in store for the broadcast area. One of the primary benefits to this type of radio is that many are powered by batteries, solar or even a hand crank to ensure a steady stream of weather information, even during power outages.
Work with local building departments
In some areas, and especially when it comes to large projects, it’s not unusual for a contractor to have communication with local building officials about their hurricane plans. Public safety is the stated mission for many building departments, and they often want reassurance that the project site poses no threat to neighboring properties or residents.
Secure jobsite materials
Once it looks like a storm will be passing close enough to a project, it’s time for jobsite personnel to perform critical tasks like securing materials, trash, tools, and other debris that could take flight in heavy winds. Any construction equipment that can be thrown around in a heavy windstorm needs to be tied down, protected, or removed from the site, including heavier equipment like cranes, dumpsters, and portable bathrooms.
Items like fence screens and jobsite signage also must be removed, and any in-progress utility systems must be protected from sand or seawater intrusion if there is the possibility of storm surge.
Now is also the time to take any moveable electronics and project documents from the construction trailer and transport them to a safe location offsite. Power to the site must be turned off, if possible, and fuel must be made available to power generators if there is no power post-storm.
Plan for water removal
Planning for water removal is key to preparing your jobsite for hurricane season. Many contractors will place pumps in excavations or basements in advance of a storm so that pumping can begin as soon as it is safe to do so.
Getting rid of excess water is not only important for project cleanup, but also to protect adjacent properties. Water can be dangerous to neighboring properties because it can soften the ground that they stand on and compromise the structural stability of the building.
To discharge water safely and responsibly, it must be emptied out onto the street so that the stormwater system can take care of it. If the system is overwhelmed, it’s still important to get the excess water off the site, even if that means taking measures like hiring a tanker truck to haul it away.
Secure hazardous chemicals
Another important step is to make sure that any hazardous chemicals are moved or secured. Construction firms and others in the building industry should take steps before a natural disaster to ensure they have a qualified team in place to handle their hazardous waste management program.
If any chemicals on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of chemicals included in the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) are in danger of being released into the environment, contractors must have a third-party team ready to come in immediately after the storm passes to perform cleanup.
Ensure the structure’s security
Now that the items on the periphery of the project are secure, it’s time to safeguard the structure itself. If the work is a renovation, or if work has progressed on a new building to a point where water can significantly damage the interior, crews should board up any openings and accessible windows and place sandbags around the perimeter.
Assess the damage with caution
When the storm has passed and local authorities have given the go-ahead, it’s time to return to the project site to assess damage and start to clean up. Use caution when navigating every area of the project site, especially those with standing water, as the accompanying sharp or jagged debris could pose a danger.
It’s also essential to use the same care when entering a building after a storm because, depending on the extent of the damage, some structural elements could be compromised.
Keep your site and your crew safe with Williams Equipment & Supply
The bottom line is that you and your crew should be able to do what it takes to protect yourselves, your hard work, and your livelihoods. Of course, there isn’t much you can do to stop a hurricane, but it’s how you prepare for one and deal with the aftermath that makes the difference.
Whether you need high-quality supplies to prepare your jobsite, equipment for dealing with hurricane aftermath, or simply friendly, knowledgeable advice, you can rely on Williams Equipment & Supply to help you through this and future hurricane seasons. Get in contact with our team via phone or by visiting any of our locations across the Mid-South, and make sure that you and your team are ready for inclement weather of all sorts.