In 2008 alone, close to USD 57 billion dollars worth of property and infrastructure were damaged due to natural disasters across the United States. From hurricanes to wildfires to drought and flooding to tornadoes and severe weather systems, the average American household is thus not at all safe from these destructive forces of nature. Complementary to an effective disaster management is adequate preparation especially in the provision of emergency board up services.
One very crucial element of disaster management is the state of emergency preparedness of every individual American homeowner. It should be understood that natural disasters are not necessarily confined to a certain geographic location or topography but they do have the natural tendency to strike anywhere, hence the term “disaster”.
In 2008, almost all of the states in the country has had a brush with Mother Nature’s fury either in the form of flooding, drought, wildfires, electrical storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other violent weather systems. In these incidents, not only were it characterized by massive losses to the agricultural and commercial sectors as well as damages to personal properties, lives were also lost as a consequence of these uncontrollable disasters.
Hurricanes Dolly, Ike and Gustav combined for a total of USD 33.2 billion in damage to property and infrastructure including 128 people who lost their lives while scores other were missing and have been presumed dead. Most of the damage was brought about by the storm surge that was fueled by strong winds downing a variety of structures, properties, and infrastructures.
In California, more than a thousand homes and structures were grazed by wildfires accounting for USD 2 billion in damages while snuffing out the lives of 16 persons. More than five million acres of mountains and grasslands were burnt by literally thousands of wildfires across most Western, Central and Southeastern states.
The American Midwest was severely inundated after heavy rains that resulted in more than USD 15 billion worth of agricultural losses and property damage as well as 24 deaths. The Midwest was also battered with severe weather systems and tornadoes that resulted in over USD 4.5 billion in damages to properties and infrastructure as well as 88 deaths.
These austere figures are more of a reflection of man’s continued inability to muster the understanding necessary to manage natural disasters. Although no one can safely say that such disasters can be prevented, the extent of the damage to property as well the risk to one’s life can be greatly reduced if appropriate measures are undertaken in such events. One such measure, albeit often neglected and shrugged off as non-essential, is the provision of emergency board up services.
More than Temporary
For most homeowners a board up solution is more of a temporary solution to a perceived problem in one’s house or property. What most homeowners fail to recognize is the fact that there is more to boarding up than just nailing down a few pieces of wood across a structure that needs ‘boarding up’.
Professional emergency board up services is clearly a cut above the ordinary self-initiated board up. The reason for this is that professional technicians are not only focused on the erecting of temporary support solutions to your home
. These professionals perform a series of diagnostic assessment tests, more often than not a thermal imaging scan, to identify problem areas in the home. These problem areas can be in the form of cracks in the walls, loosened foundation materials, broken component panels, and compromised beams and support columns, among others.
The essence of board up is in the provision of temporary supportive measures to existing house or building structures. This is erected so as to prevent the likelihood of structural collapse which can pose a significant threat to the persons who will be working inside during the cleanup and restoration phase.
Now, the addition of ‘emergency’ to the concept literally translates that professionals will be able to conduct a rapid yet very thorough diagnostic assessment of the damaged structure. This is done in order to allow professionals carry out their respective functions safely. Much like those in the medical professions, emergency board up professionals move with utmost efficiency with only one thing in mind: avert the total ‘demise’ of one’s property by instituting ‘life-saving’ measures before more permanent measures can be applied.
In the board up process, only the latest technology will be employed using various industrial strength materials to give the overall structure the support it needs. As such, professional board up technicians will often use steel to board up windows, doors, walls, panels, as well as ceilings. Massive hydraulic jacks have been used in some board up of ceilings while broad metal plates have been extensively used in windows and doors.
Economics and Emergency Board Up
The materials used in emergency board up do not come cheap because of their durability and strength vis-à-vis the shearing forces involved in a compromised building structure. Yet, when lives and property are on the line, there simply is no such thing as ‘cheap’ material.
Considering that there were close to 200 deaths in 2008 alone due to natural disasters, majority of which were in homes, these could have been easily averted had it been for the judicious use of appropriate resources. The significant lack of knowledge about existing community resources as well as technical information on how to prepare in case of emergencies has been greatly considered as one of the major reasons for this continued loss of lives every major disaster.
One can easily say that a disaster is a disaster, something that can never be controlled. Yet, common sense will often dictate that by doing some simple things, we can assure some degree of survivability. That said, it is important to look at these disasters not in the economic sense but rather in its impact on human lives. The American spirit of resilience and perseverance has been clearly demonstrated in each of the great trials of this great country. What is lacking is the clear understanding of the need to be proactive in the management of such disasters.
Proactive Disaster Management
Whether it is a tornado, a storm surge, or even a hurricane is threatening your home, there is essentially one thing you can call – professional companies that offer emergency board up services. However, there are quite a few proactive measures you can do to help you and your family better manage disasters should they occur.
1. Plan contingencies with your family and identify specific roles each member will be playing. Reflect on the past natural disasters in your area or even on disasters experienced by your neighbors. There is a likely possibility that these natural occurrences might occur in your family in the immediate future.
2. Schedule a disaster drill with your family members and, if at all feasible, you can invite your neighbors, too. This does not only foster cordial relations it also facilitates better and more efficient management should a disaster do strike. Remember that natural disasters will strike not only one or two houses or structures but rather whatever stands in its way.
3. Coordinate with local authorities as well as community resources regarding disaster preparedness. Try to learn about community evacuation plans should a disaster occur. Outline these plans to each member of your household so everyone will know what to do and where to go in the event of a massive natural disaster.
4. Store in one convenient bag disaster essentials like flashlights, batteries, ropes, medications, canned food, blankets, and change of clothes, among others. This bag should be placed in a strategic part of the house where it is readily accessible.
5. Try to scout for the most relevant and comprehensive home insurance coverage at a reasonable premium. Although these kinds of insurance might as well be shrugged off as unnecessary by most homeowners, experts will often point out some distinct advantages of having one. Asking for detailed information from your insurance agent will help clarify some things before you sign that policy contract.
6. Search for the most appropriate professional company that offers a variety of damage cleanup and restoration as well as emergency board up services. Place due consideration for the company’s track record, physical and technology resources, professional technicians, and accessibility to your home. It certainly is a good idea to pay their office a visit so you will have an idea of their technical capabilities through their organizational structure.
7. An often overlooked area in proactive management of disasters is the regular and periodic maintenance checkup of all relevant home components and fixtures including electrical wiring, sump pump functionality, dehumidifier availability, fire- and water- proofing materials, and so on. What may be thought of as standard routine procedure may actually spell the difference between life and death and between a damaged and unscathed property.
The main idea about all of these proactive measures is that we do not have to wait for disasters to strike our homes before we can get our acts together. Although employing these preventive measures do not guarantee at all safety during disasters, it however reduces the likelihood that our homes will be severely damaged by the natural phenomenon.
For the average American homeowner who has to contend with the daily rigors brought about by today’s uncertainties, having the peace of mind that everything has been done to prevent or minimize the impact of disasters will be a great help indeed. Carefully considering the need for an emergency board up service should the need arises is one way of ensuring a peace of mind.