Take these steps to protect your tribal business property from earthquake damage
Unlike hurricane or tornado seasons, earthquakes have no particular time of the year that they strike. When they strike, it’s seemingly random, even occurring outside of active earthquake zones along the West Coast. Whether your native lands are along the West Coast, East Coast, or somewhere in between, it’s a wise decision to take steps to protect your tribal business property from earthquake damage, ahead of time.
A quick look back at American history shows quakes in access of 5.0 magnitude in unusual spots. For instance, in the early 1800s, an earthquake in New Madrid, Missouri was felt as far away as New York City. Later, in 1886, Charleston, South Carolina was hit by a major quake. In this century, there have been quakes in West Salem, Illinois (2008), Fort Payne, Alabama (2003), Mineral, Virginia (2011) and of course multiple quakes in Oklahoma over the past few years. If you live in an area that has seen earthquakes before, it may be worth your while to review these ways to protect your tribal business property from earthquake damage.
Related: Your business continuity plan: 10 ways to minimize risk before the next natural catastrophe
How to protect your building from earthquake damage
Buildings whose structures are designed to absorb earthquake energy and resist lateral movement are best able to withstand a major earthquake. This means the roof and floors are properly designed and connected to the structure frame or walls, which are anchored to a strong foundation, according to Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. The expert advice of a structural engineer is invaluable here.
There are a number of non-structural retrofits that are less expensive for you to consider. They’re designed to reduce interior damage plus damage to power, gas and water systems. FEMA offers guidance through their QuakeSmart website plus a comprehensive nonstructural earthquake damage guide.
How to protect your contents from earthquake damage
- Fasten bookcases and cabinets to nearby walls when possible or stabilize central bookcases by attaching them back-to-back to each other. Further reduce spillage by using self-locking latches to cabinet drawers or doors.
- Secure electronic equipment to the floor or table surface with braces, hook and loop closures, or heavy glue to prevent overturning.
- Secure picture frames, bulletin boards, and other wall mounted equipment to the wall using closed screw-eyes to prevent falling.
- Brace storage shelves to withstand side-to-side movement and make sure they are well anchored to the floor. Place heavier objects on the bottom; secure them to nearby walls if possible.
- Use a protective film on all glass windows, doors and walls to prevent shattering, which can cause serious injury.
- Replace rigid plumbing supply lines and couplings with flexible braided lines and flexible couples to reduce the chance of rupture.
- Ensure the hangers supporting your mechanical and plumbing systems are less than 12 inches long to reduce the sway during a tremor, whenever possible.
- Brace mechanical equipment such as boilers, furnaces, air conditioning equipment, and water heaters to the wall and/or floor to prevent overturning or shifting.
- Use larger and thicker foot plates to provide greater floor anchorage.
- Add wall ties to secure racks located along walls.
- Install wire decking to prevent items from falling through.
- Add wire mesh or barriers on the face and rear of the racks to prevent items from falling from the front or back side of the racks.
- Store heavier items on the bottom to reduce the potential for overturning of the racks.
- Segregate and store liquids on the bottom with a wire mesh or barrier on the face and rear of the rack to prevent from falling out of the rack. Combustible/flammable liquids in storage racks may also have additional fire protection requirements not discussed here.
Related: Tribal business disaster recovery plan: a back-up plan to keep you in business
How to protect your digital assets from earthquake damage
Regardless of the size of your tribal business, protecting your data is crucial. Your data, along with your data equipment are at risk from earthquake destruction.
IHBS warns that, due to the sensitive nature of the equipment, rigid bracing techniques may cause damage from earthquake shaking. They recommend using newer hardware protection solutions which isolate the most sensitive components and others that include specialty storage racks. These racks move gently in the opposite direction to the ground motion, providing a more stable surface for the equipment.
Another consideration is that following an earthquake, you may not be able to enter to your building to access your computers. The data isn’t necessarily lost – you just can’t access your equipment. It’s critical to backup your data and records so that you can access them safely from another location. Numerous options exist for storing your company’s vital data and records; take steps now to investigate what best suits your company. IHBS offers three steps to follow, regardless of the solution you choose:
- Minimize the risk of losing data at your primary location (i.e., limit who has access to your data, or consider the security of the environment in the area where your computers are located).
- Backup the data frequently; ensure your data is available offsite in case it is lost from the primary location.
- If data is corrupted or lost, know the steps to data recovery.
Since as power outages are common after an earthquake, you may also want to consider an uninterruptible power supply or battery backup. These can aid in saving data by keeping your computer system running when the power fails.
If you operate a business in an earthquake zone, IBHS recommends meeting with your information technology specialist to determine the best solution for your company.
More ways to protect your tribal business property from earthquake damage
Additional systems you’ll want to consider bracing or securing include gas lines, water heaters and fire sprinkler systems. Your commercial property’s earthquake preparedness should include earthquake strapping and bracing systems to protect water heaters and fire protection systems from being damaged by earthquakes. A shut-off valve installed on your natural gas line or propane gas can help prevent fires. Read more details on initiating these safety procedures, along with more safety tips from IHBS here.