If you are a commercial property, a business owner or a property manager, have you thought about what would happen if, and when, an earthquake measuring 7.3 or greater occurred? Is your building strong enough and safe enough to withstand those powerful underground forces? Will your employees or tenants be safe? Do you have an emergency preparedness and disaster recovery plan in place? If the answer to any of these questions is NO, now is the time to start planning for the “BIG ONE”.
One of the first things that you can do is participate in the Great American ShakeOut on October 15, 2015. This is an action event that you can plan for tenants or your employees. It is an annual event that is held across the country, promoting earthquake safety at home and at work. It is a day for everyone to practice earthquake safety procedures, including the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” drill.
Participation in this event is free and at a minimum, it will only take a couple of minutes to practice the steps aimed to protect employees/tenants and save lives. Before or during the ShakeOut day, you can also choose to review the disaster preparedness plans currently in place with your management team, employees or tenants. Encourage your employees to participate, both at work and at home; the one minute drill will serve as a reminder of the safety steps that need to be taken quickly when the ground below starts to shake.
If you and your management team want to go further with emergency/disaster training, you might consider additional drills such as basic life safety/emergency response, decision-making in an emergency situation or even a business operations disaster simulation. Additional information regarding emergency preparedness and practice drill planning can be found on the Great American ShakeOut website.
As part of your emergency preparedness review, take the time with your employees or tenants to look for internal hazards that can be easily fixed. Potential hazards might include:
- Boxes or unbraced shelving units that are close to building exits or stairwells.
- Heavy items placed on top of high shelving units.
- Unsecured items that might fall or move around when the earth is shaking. Unsecured hazards might include fire sprinklers and gas lines, computer equipment, book shelves and office furniture, lighting fixtures and ceiling tiles.
- Business data that is not regularly backed up to an outside location.
Once unsecured hazards are identified throughout your building, commit to anchoring or securing those items – sooner, rather than later. Once a quake begins, you and your employees will not have the chance to stop equipment or furniture from tipping over, falling or moving around. Making the necessary changes now will not only reduce or remove the possibility of injuries, it will decrease the chance of property damage and interruptions in your day-to-day business operations.
Over and above fixing potential internal hazards and coordinating safety drills, it is important to determine potential structural issues that exist. Commercial properties that have been designed and built in the last 25-30 years are generally structurally sound due to existing building codes. Older commercial buildings will most likely need to be strengthened and reinforced; weaker buildings can be severely damaged or even completely destroyed during extremely strong seismic activity.
If your building is more than 30 years old, and has not been retrofitted, it is time to determine if your property is capable of withstanding a major temblor. Schedule a thorough inspection to determine whether any maintenance or a complete earthquake retrofit is necessary to strengthen the building. Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit, serving commercial property owners throughout the Bay area, has the experience necessary to provide an in-depth inspection of your building and perform all aspects of retrofitting your property. The professionals at Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit can answer any questions that you may have regarding the retrofit process, provide cost estimates and help you prioritize the work that needs to be completed. Call today to start the process, ensuring the safety of your employees. Be sure to participate in the Great American ShakeOut on October 15th!