It’s Hurricane Season: Is Your Roof Nailed Down?

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Four key questions from commercial property insurer FM Global to help businesses prepare for wind and water.

“Your resilience, or lack of it, determines your fate," Ronnie Gibson, vice president and chief engineer, FM Global.

The Atlantic hurricane season begins today with forecasters predicting a greater than one-in-four chance of a major hurricane making landfall in the United States between now and the end of November.

That’s below the 52-percent average for the last century, but “if you’re in the path of one that lands, the probabilities go out the window,” said Ronnie Gibson, vice president and chief engineer with FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers. “Your resilience, or lack of it, determines your fate.”

When Hurricane Katrina struck 10 years ago, businesses that followed FM Global’s loss-prevention advice sustained eight times less damage on average than those that didn’t. An approximately US$7,400 investment in risk improvement ahead of Katrina helped those companies avert an average US$1.5 million in losses, and get up and running within days, in many cases. To make your business resilient through hurricane season, FM Global suggests tackling these four questions:

What can be washed away?
Relocate vehicles, electronics and other high-value items to a safe area so they’re operable after a flood. Store other items above the floor on pallets, shelves or storage racks. Protect large stationary machines from water damage by filling sandbags and placing them around possible water entry points. Cover equipment with large plastic sheets or a water-displacing, rust-preventive compound.

What can be blown in?
Outdoor objects become missiles during hurricanes. Anchor or stow furniture, trash receptacles, fencing and signs. Trim trees that threaten buildings. Purchase storm shutters or plywood to protect windows and doors against wind and flying debris.

What can be torn apart?
Fix deteriorating roofs and buildings. Replace missing fasteners on roof-mounted equipment, secure roof flashing and ensure all drains are clear. Anchor roofs and tie down equipment that could collapse or become severely damaged. Applying additional fasteners at the perimeter and corners of a roof – where it’s most vulnerable – can prevent it from detaching and peeling back.

What can be cut off?
Alert authorities and utilities about any roads or services that may be disrupted by the storm’s path. Place contractors and equipment-repair companies on stand-by, and make sure a salvage crew is prepared to take action. Reduce the chance of fire during expected flooding by shutting off electricity and gas. Install barriers around sprinkler risers, yard valves and hydrants to protect them from floating debris.

For additional information on preparing for natural hazards, visit

About FM Global
Marking its 180th year in business in 2015, FM Global is a mutual insurance company whose capital, scientific research capability and engineering expertise are solely dedicated to property risk management and the resilience of its client-owners. These owners, who share the belief that the majority of property loss is preventable, represent many of the world’s largest organizations, including one of every three FORTUNE 1000 companies. They work with FM Global to better understand the hazards that can impact their business continuity in order to make cost-effective risk management decisions, combining property loss prevention with insurance protection. FM Global is rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best, AA (Very Strong) by Fitch and A+ by Standard & Poor’s.


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Allison Bowman
FM Global
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