Natural Disasters by Season: Is Your Restoration Company Prepared for Fall? August 28, 2017 – Posted in: Blog, Industrial
Disaster can strike a home or business at any time, and you are ready to clean it up and put the building back the way it was. Restoration work can be extremely rewarding. Your professional services give people peace of mind and help them physically and emotionally recover from disasters.
To maintain your professionalism and quick response time, you have to be prepared, even when homeowners are not. This means anticipating possible natural disasters before they strike and being ready with water, fire, or mold remediation equipment and materials.
Since many natural disasters are weather and climate related, as the seasons change, you face a new set of challenges in your restoration business. While most people are still enjoying the long, lazy days of summer, you need to prepare for potential natural disasters of fall.
Common Natural Disasters by Season
Most natural disasters are unavoidable but can at least be predicted to some degree. You may not be able to avoid damage from a natural disaster, but that damage might be mitigated before and after the storm. When it comes to weather, predictions are not perfect. A natural disaster could strike in any location at any time of the year. These are some guidelines for when disasters usually strike, so you can try to prepare.
Typically from March to July is when tornados strike, although a tornado can form during any time of the year if the weather conditions are right. The season changes a bit by region, with a concentration of early storms in the South and the later tornados swirling up in the Northern Plains and the Midwest.
Tornados usually grow out of a severe thunderstorm. They need the instability of changing air masses to form. Usually, a tornado forms in humid weather when a colder air mass descends quickly from the upper atmosphere. Tornados are more prominent in the middle of the country where humid air from Mexico and cold, dry air from Canada collide. A tornado can occur in any location, however, when the right conditions exist.
Tornados account for millions of dollars in property damage each year across the US. With their strong winds, they tear roofs off of buildings and knock over trees and power poles. Tornados are often accompanied by heavy rain which inflicts water damage on breached structures. Downed power lines can also cause electrical fires and other hazards.
The second half of the year can be dominated by hurricanes in the Atlantic region. The concentration of these storms is usually between June and the end of November. At one point, two hurricane seasons were identified, summer and fall. In recent years, they have seemed to merge into one long season that covers six months out of the year.
A hurricane forms over warm water in the Southern Atlantic and then travels north to reach shore. It is built from the warm water that evaporates out of the ocean and forms heavy clouds. The ocean water is cooled by this evaporation process, and the surrounding air is warm and wet. When warm and cold come together, a hurricane begins to form.
Although the National Weather Service tracks hurricanes forming out in the Atlantic Ocean long before they make landfall, it is still often impossible to protect property against them. Hurricanes can hit properties hundreds of miles inland with winds strong enough to move a house off of its foundation and topple trees.
The majority of damage that comes from hurricanes is usually water. In addition to heavy rains that company the storm, a hurricane can push water up onto coastal properties. Even inland properties in flood plains or near the edge of a river or lake can be subject to flooding from a hurricane.
Wildfires are dependent on more than just weather conditions, so the season is difficult to predict. Dry conditions, like the drought in California, can spark wildfires at any time of the year. Fire needs fuel to burn, so a wildfire is more likely to take off in a wooded area where it can burn from tree to tree.
In general, the weather is drier in the US in the winter, and this is when more wildfires occur. Beginning in October, the wildfire season can last through January. Wildfires can be triggered by hot, dry weather or started by careless or nefarious human behavior. The combination of a careless campfire and dry conditions can easily start a wildfire in dry conditions.
The primary damage caused by wildfires to homes, of course, is fire. Buildings that do not burn, though, are subject to water damage, either by preventative measures or by firefighting. Smoke and ash damage is also typical from wildfires.
Earthquakes tend to cluster by geography and not by season. There isn’t really a season for earthquakes. They can happen anytime. The other problem with this type of natural disaster is that they are so unpredictable. Unlike weather-related storms, earthquakes tend to come without any warning.
Technically, an earthquake can happen anywhere, but they are more likely in certain geographies. Scientists have identified regions where underground faults could shift and produce an earthquake. In recent years, some earthquakes have centered around underground conditions that were manmade, but it is difficult to predict even these types of earthquakes.
Structural damage from earthquakes can be significant and unseen. Most buildings were not meant to move, so the shaking from an earthquake affects the foundation and structural integrity of the building. Drywall is also not usually rated for movement and cracks or crumbles in an earthquake.
When buildings break apart, utility services are damaged. Pipes can break, ducts twist or separate and electrical wires snap. Damage from earthquakes also can extend to exterior hardscape surfaces like concrete patios, and underground structures like pools.
Highly dependent on location, flooding season usually comes during the shoulder seasons. Spring is probably best known as a flooding season in most regions. It the Northeast, snow and ice melts and runs down to lower areas. Local rivers and streams may overflow due to the increased amount of water. Spring flooding season can also be compounded by wet weather. Heavy rains or even a spring ice or snow storm can result in too much water for local drainage systems to handle. The result is water that does not make it to a river or other outlet, but instead backs up and floods low-lying properties.
Flooding season can also be in the fall, especially in the Southeast. Conditions that are not severe enough to produce hurricanes still can dump a lot of rain in coastal regions. A high-water table prevents normal storm water from draining into the ocean. When heavy rain comes quickly, the ocean can overflow onto coastal properties and those inland in the coastal regions.
Flooding season not only brings water damage, but mold and other water-borne problems. Water can ruin anything it touches in a building. It also is wicked up by drywall or other porous materials it comes in contact with, and the water damage travels upward throughout the structure.
Stone or concrete foundations can be damaged by water and lose their structural integrity. Exterior retaining walls can fail or be overcome with too much water and need to be repaired or replaced. Most building materials are damaged by water if they are submerged for a period of time. Appliances are also damaged by extended exposure to water and may need to be replaced.
The Benefits of Knowing What to Expect
Although natural disasters can strike at any time, it is helpful to study these patterns to get a better idea of what you can expect in the fall. Adjust your expectations for regional and local concerns, as well. Most natural disasters have a water element to them, so you know you will be dealing with water damage most of the time.
Breaking your business planning down by season can help you more accurately predict the resources you will need and the types of jobs you will face. Some seasonal concerns will be the same, but the volume of work will change. Look at your business history for the same time last year, or over the last couple of years, to help to predict the amount of business you will get each season.
Restoration Company Business Plan for Fall
If your restoration company is going to help people recover from property damage disasters, you have to be prepared. This involves creating a business plan for fall that takes into account the types of restorations you may be called on to perform in this season. You can use your company’s job history and the seasonal storm information above to predict what you will face in the coming season.
Consider your equipment needs for the coming season. Be sure you have enough high-quality commercial equipment to do the jobs that are likely to come in over the next several months. Most natural disasters involve water in some capacity, so you will need industrial dehumidifiers and commercial air movers to dry out the buildings before you can begin to restore them. As you now, when there is water there is mold. Check your supply of HEPA air scrubbers to be sure you are ready to perform mold remediation, too.
When dealing with wet remediation sites, protective gear for your employees is essential. Keeping them safe and comfortable will make them more efficient on the job. As you prepare your restoration company for the fall, you’ll want to be sure you have the right protective gear on hand. If you have any questions, you can check OSHA standards and the safety ratings on your equipment and safety gear.
Save Money by Planning Ahead
If you have to run out and buy more equipment or protective gear at the last minute, you could end up paying a premium. Instead, plan for your fall equipment needs and budget for those purchases throughout the year. This way, when fall comes, you will have your equipment in place and ready to work.
Fall business planning for your restoration company should also include an equipment maintenance and replacement schedule. You want to do the maintenance on the equipment you will use in the fall during the summer, so it is ready to go. When you need your equipment, the most is not the time to worry about taking it out of commission for routine maintenance.
Budgeting purchases of protective gear in advance will also save you time and money. As you prepare for the fall season, stock up on the gear you will need. Buy enough to get you through all the work you are likely to do in the fall. Buying protective gear in bulk will save you money and keep your crew on the job where you need them.
Your crew is one of the biggest assets in your restoration business, so you need to consider them in your fall business plan. Fall begins cold and flu season, and you may experience some normal staffing shortages for illness. Now is the time to staff up for the fall season. Be sure you have enough people on your crew, trained and ready, to handle the workload you can expect in the fall.
During natural disasters, more than one property is usually damaged. These storms could present an opportunity for multiple projects, and business could come in fast. Know your work capacity at all times concerning your staffing and equipment. Be sure you have enough staff to operate your equipment, and you know how many projects you can take on at one time.
Staff needs training to be prepared for the fall disaster season. Be sure your staff, old and new, is trained and certified in the areas you need them to work. Training is important for safety and also for the efficiency and productivity of your business.
Include some marketing materials in your fall business plan. In the event of a natural disaster, how will people find your restoration business for help? Create a campaign you can deploy quickly when a big storm is predicted or after it strikes unexpectedly. If you help people prepare for the storm, even just with information, they will remember you when they need help.
Natural disasters often happen quickly and can devastate a whole block, neighborhood, or town. They can be an excellent business opportunity for you if you are prepared. Find out where people will gather in the event of a natural disaster and put your marketing materials there.
Tips for Restoration Companies
Restoration companies respond to natural disasters and other catastrophic conditions that damage property. If your company is prepared like an emergency response team, you will get more business. Here are some ideas to keep in mind.
- Protect your office and equipment so you are available to respond in the event of a local disaster. Create your own internal emergency plan, so you can be out helping others and building your business when disaster strikes.
- Get to know the local insurance inspectors. Many homeowners will call the insurance company before they reach out to a restoration expert, and they ask the inspector for a recommendation.
- Mark your job sites with your company name and contact information, so other people can reach you if they need restoration work. Your job site can serve as a sample of the kind of work you can do.
- Canvas the neighbors when you are working on a restoration project. Other nearby homes were likely damaged at the same time.
- Don’t rush the restoration. People will be in a hurry to get their homes put back together, but remediation from things like water damage takes time. Worry about doing a thorough job rather than a fast job.
- Be a good member of the community by volunteering your time and getting to know your neighbors. When they need restoration work, people will be more inclined to call someone they already know and trust.
- Develop a relationship with your local emergency responders. They will most likely be on the scene when property damage occurs and can recommend your company to homeowners.
- Be prepared for any type of disaster situation. Your customers will be impressed when you can respond to their needs right away instead of having to rent equipment or order basic materials.
- Get to know the local building and codes officers to fast track the inspection and completion process and get customers back into their homes faster.
- Develop a relationship with the local hardware suppliers. At a time of natural disaster, building materials can become scarce as the local supply is over taxed by massive restoration efforts. If you can get the supplies you need quickly, your customers will be impressed, and you will be able to move on to other jobs.
- Practice good customer service and a comforting business manner. People facing property restoration after a natural disaster are often stunned and vulnerable. Doing a great job with the restoration work is not enough to make you stand out from the competition. People will remember that you were kind to them and helped them get through a very difficult time.
- Negotiate a deal with local haulers and dump sites to accommodate the bulk loads of damaged materials you have to discard from job sites. This can keep your costs down and your timelines running smoothly.
- Stay up to date on all safety inspection requirements and training. You send your crew into dangerous conditions, so be sure they know how to stay safe and protect the safety of people around them.
Trust Aer Industries for Emergency Restoration Equipment
Your restoration business is built on the quality of the equipment you use. It has to work when you need it and do the job it is intended for. Aer Industries supplies high-quality equipment for restoration work, and we stand behind the products we sell.
We sell professional grade air movers, industrial dehumidifiers, and HEPA air scrubbers for all of your commercial restoration needs. Our equipment can stand up to big jobs and constant use from one job to the next. Our product line includes B-Air®, BlueDriTM, and Soleaire equipment®, and we carry both conventional and LGR industrial humidifiers.
At Aer Industries, we have your restoration equipment readily available to fulfill your order, and we ship it to you for free. Our sales representatives are extremely knowledgeable and can help you get the right equipment for your jobs. We only sell high-quality equipment from reputable manufacturers, so you can put it to work right away without worrying about quality or durability issues.
Aer Industries is the equipment expert for restoration equipment, and we are ready to help you equip your restoration business for the fall season. Contact us today for your equipment purchase needs.