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NYC Disaster Recovery: Is Your Business Ready for the Next Big Storm?

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Here in NYC, disaster recovery is on our minds this time of year

For business owners in the New York City area who lived through Superstorm Sandy, this can be an anxious time of year. Even though hurricane season is technically on the wane, that doesn’t mean we are safe. After all, Sandy struck at the end of October. Many of us are keeping an eye on the forecast and worrying every time a tropical depression forms.

There’s a good reason for that concern. If you’re not prepared, storm damage can severely impact your business, or even put you out of business for good. Unfortunately, worrying won’t protect your business in the event of a major storm. A NYC disaster recovery plan can.

Components of a NYC disaster recovery plan

Having the following information and procedures documented in a NYC disaster recovery plan can make the difference between losing your business and getting back on your feet after a severe storm.

  • Local emergency contact information (fire, police, building management, power, insurance)
  • Emergency planning team members (including roles and responsibilities)
  • Employee contact information and protocols for what to do in various situations
  • Evacuation plan
  • Shelter in place plan
  • Alternate location for business operation if needed
  • Communications plan
  • Information security plan
  • Records backup plans and locations
  • Facilities preparation procedures (that includes your HVAC equipment, more on that below)
  • Service providers contact information (facilities service providers to help you get back up and running as quickly as possible)

Disaster recovery is all about being prepared in advance. For more information about what to do in advance of a hurricane or other major storm, consult these resources:
Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist
Ready.gov’s hurricane preparedness tips

Your HVAC disaster recovery plan

One aspect of NYC disaster recovery planning that’s often neglected is protecting your HVAC system from storm damage. Knowing what to do before, during and after the storm can mean the difference between minor damage (or no damage) and facing a complete system replacement.

NYC disaster recovery for HVAC: STEPS TO TAKE NOW

Secure equipment to prevent wind damage
In a hurricane your outdoor air conditioning equipment can be exposed to 150 mph winds, or stronger if you’re located on an upper floor of a high rise building. Make sure your equipment is securely bolted in place. Over time, corrosion can cause the bolts to become loose, so be sure to inspect them regularly and replace if needed. For extra protection, your NYC disaster recovery planning should include installing hooks and buying hurricane straps designed for your equipment.

Elevate equipment to prevent water damage
As we all learned from Sandy, flooding can cause even more damage than wind in a hurricane. Your HVAC equipment can sustain major damage from water, especially wiring, controls and valves that can become corroded. The danger is even greater when salt water is involved (don’t forget the New York City is surrounded by brackish water). If possible, have HVAC equipment installed on elevated platforms so it’s not sitting in flood water.

Taking this commercial disaster recovery planning step now can save you from a major expense later.

Get a preventative maintenance contract now
After a major storm, it can take days or even weeks to get a service provider out to your location. Here’s a little known disaster recovery tip: HVAC service providers typically provide priority service to their maintenance contract customers. That means you’ll get up and running faster.

If you don’t already have one, an HVAC maintenance agreement also protects you from breakdowns and comfort issues as well.

Learn more: Q&A about HVAC Preventive Maintenance Contracts

NYC disaster recovery for HVAC: WHEN A STORM IS COMING

Remove clutter
Move any loose objects from around your heating and air conditioning equipment. Those items could get blown around and damage your system. It’s easy for small flying debris to damage sensitive air conditioner coils.

Shut off equipment
Don’t forget this important NYC disaster recovery step! When a storm is impending, it’s essential that you completely power down all your HVAC equipment. Turn down all thermostats, turn off the units, and turn off the circuit breaker. This prevents damage from lightning strikes, downed power lines, and also the potential for damaging power surges when the power comes back on.

This NYC disaster recovery step also protects you and your employees from the risk of fire or injury due to electric shock.

NYC disaster recovery for HVAC: AFTER THE STORM

WAIT! Don’t turn HVAC equipment back on just yet
Even if everything looks dry on the outside, it’s still possible that your equipment has been exposed to small amounts of water. If so, turning it back on too soon can be a big (and expensive) mistake. Even if everything seems fine at first, your system could fail weeks later from water damage.

Have your system inspected by HVAC professionals
Before you power your equipment back up again, have it inspected by a qualified HVAC professional to check for signs of electrical or water damage.

This is the only way you can be sure your heating and air conditioning equipment is safe to operate. After everything you did to protect it, skipping this NYC disaster recovery step can mean having to repair or replace expensive equipment.

Learn more: How to Fix Storm-Related Electrical Damage to Your AC System

Who knows, we might just get lucky here in New York City and get through this year’s hurricane season unscathed. But remember: winter is just around the corner. Next we will be facing Nor’easters and blizzards that threaten your business with the same type of wind, water and electrical damage.

Make sure you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature sees fit to dish out this year. Have a NYC disaster recovery plan in place.

To learn more and be sure your HVAC system is fully prepared for any possible emergency, get your copy of this helpful checklist: HVAC Emergency Preparedness Checklist.


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