How to Protect Construction Sites during Hurricane Season

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How to Protect Construction Sites during Hurricane Season

By Chris Tilton, co-founder, Dewitt Tilton Group

Hurricane Irma is probably a memory to most, but hurricane season lasts until November 30, and for builders, the weather plays a major role in any construction plan.

If you have not already done so, now is the time to put a hurricane safety plan into place for any construction site. Having a clear strategy ready to go reduces the risk of unnecessary damage, helps prevent injuries on the site and gives you peace of mind.

Let’s start with the basics.

A hurricane watch is issued when a storm is expected to arrive within 48 hours, and a warning is issued when tropical storm conditions are within 36 hours. When a hurricane watch is announced, it’s time to put your plan in place and prepare the construction site.

Steps for Creating a Contingency Plan
The first step is to create a checklist for areas and equipment in need of protection. This list will most likely include tools, heavy equipment, generators, fuel tanks, portable toilets and other materials that cannot be moved to an inside location. Be sure each item on the check list is assigned to a specific member of the team and take time to review the checklist prior to any potential threats.

Your contingency plan should also include a communications piece. In addition to notifying your on-site team, subcontractors should be notified that the site is halting all work until further notice.

Planning for large amounts of water is key to any plan. Heavy rains and flooding are leading causes of damage to construction sites. It is imperative that any construction site is equipped with permanent and temporary drainage systems to maintain the structural stability of the area.

If there are vehicles on the site, they should be moved to higher ground and away from structures that could be damaged. Plus, consider filling the tanks on these vehicles prior to any hurricane or storm.

One of the last but most crucial steps is to turn off access points for all utilities. Now is also the time to remove any project documents from the construction trailer and secure them to an offsite location. As you leave the site, snap a few photos on your phone for future reference. These may come in handy if any items are missing or damaged after the fact.

After Effects
Any good contingency plan will include necessary steps for clean-up and getting back in business after a hurricane. Once you return to the site, assess and document any damage, giving special attention to downed power lines, unstable structures or wet electrical panels. Items to have on hand include cleaning supplies and fuel for vehicles. Finally contact the appropriate utilities and contact your insurance carrier for any assessment needs.

It’s important that all construction companies have a written hurricane preparation plan. Ideally, the plan will be detailed with specific assignments and action deadlines. And during hurricane season, be sure to monitor the weather on a regular basis.

This type of preparation does require added cost, effort and time but can be extremely valuable in the long run and may be your best investment. If construction managers follow these outlined steps and provide clear communication, any site will be up and running considerably quicker and suffer much less loss.

Chis Tilton of the Dewitt Tilton Group

Chris Tilton, co-founder, Dewitt Tilton Group

Chris Tilton is the co-founder of the Dewitt Tilton Group, a Savannah area commercial construction company. For more information or to contact Tilton, call 912.777.3404 or email chris@dewitttiltongroup.com.

Malware Protection

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WannaCry Malware Protection
by Jason Ryals, Chief Technology Officer at Speros

Recently making global headlines, a new variant of ransomware referred to as WannaCry has been put part of a large-scale cyber attack that has infected over 200,000 computer systems and over a 150 countries. Ransomware acts by infecting a computer through opening a malicious email or website which then encrypts your data to the user, in exchange for a payment to unlock (Decrypt) these files usually in the form of digital currency called Bitcoins. Infection can also spread to other network connected resources and perform the same operation locking an entire business from accessing their own data.

At Speros we have multiple layers of defense from NOT being apart of this exploit.

1. SonicWALL firewalls are installed and up to date with latest Security definitions and at the Speros Data Center , scans all traffic incoming and outgoing blocking anything suspicious. This also performs website filtering that will help restrict access to sites known to host malware.

2. Barracuda Networks, our anti-spam email filtering solution, inspects all email messages, unusual content,infected attachments, malicious links etc. and quarantines those messages.

3. Speros Managed Services applies Windows Updates which are tested, approved and applied to each managed workstation and Managed servers.

4. Trend Micro Antivirus is installed on each workstation and server. In the event that a rogue piece of software does happen to come through the above layers of security, the antivirus software will quarantine the suspected files and alert Speros HelpDesk.

In addition to the above security measures , Speros recommends backing up your data, your servers end or workstations , to ensure critical files are safe. While backups are not a level of prevention they are a layer of protection against loss whether from accidental or malicious intent.

Jason Ryals, CTO of Speros, Inc.

Jason Ryals, CTO of Speros

Jason Ryals is the Chief Technology Officer at Speros. Ryals’ certifications include VMware Data Center, ADTRAN Technical Support Professional, SonicWALL CSSA&CSSP, Microsoft Certified Enterprise Administrator, Linux & A-plus, Cisco, and IBM AIX Unix based server systems. He has in-depth knowledge on troubleshooting Local Area Networks and Wide Area Networks, routing, VMware and complex software designed data centers, and SD-WAN solutions. For more information, visit speros.com, call 912-354-8900 or email info@speros.com.

The 411 on Flood Insurance

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With flash floods in Utah, Joaquin smashing the East Coast, and more expected to follow, it might be time to check your properties insurance for flood coverage.

Floods cause, on average, $50 billion in damages each year in the United Sates. This makes flooding not only the most common, but the most expensive natural disaster as well. The tropical moisture associated with Hurricane Joaquin, in South Carolina alone, is predicted to cause $1 billion in property damages.

Unfortunately for property owners, flooding is not covered in standard property insurance policies, resulting in significant out-of-pocket expenses. Even when the properties are covered, failure to structure the policies and coverage to the properties unique circumstances cause underinsured exposures.

Overall, there are four flagged flood-related challenges, and solutions, that businesses face.

Changes to Flood Zones during Policy Year
Flood zones change over the course of a policy year, putting the property at risk of being underinsured for the new flood level. Certain areas may also see a rise in deductibles when they are put into a high hazard flood zone.

Reduced Coverage Due to Broad Definition of Flood
Some off-the-shelf policies have broad definitions of insurance which allow certain non-flood events to be classified as a flood. When this happens coverage is reduced and deductibles are increased.

For general purposes, make sure your policy has a narrow flood definition like: “The rising and overflowing of a body of water onto normally dry land.” This straightforward language can have a significant financial impact.

Language Excluding Interior Water Damage
Certain policies exclude losses from interior water damage following severe storms or heavy rains. This wind driven rain coverage exclusion typically occurs when proof of exterior damage is lacking. To avoid this significant coverage gap, simply remove this exclusionary language from your policy.

Properly Quantify Flood Risks and Setting Limits
Get an estimate of the potential cost of damage from flood. This allows you to get the correct amount of coverage to protect your home and belongings.

No amount of preparing can flood-proof your home, as millions of property owners discover for themselves each year. However, adding flood insurance to your policy can allow you to rebuild.

Nick Puhala is Vice President and Savannah market leader at USI Insurance Services, a leader in insurance brokerage and consulting in property-casualty, employee benefits, personal risk services, retirement, program and specialty solutions.