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Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

The following list is taken from a lessons learned summary related to how Hurricane Irma impacted numerous healthcare facilities. It is not all inclusive, or in any particular order but does include many items that should be considered in preparation for any storm or hurricane.

Prior to the storm:

  • Create contracts for vendors and know how you add vendor space during and after the event. Keep in mind, curfew will probably be in effect, even after the event. This makes it difficult for staff to come and go. Vendor technicians may come with their families as well.
  • Make sure you have a working staffing plan. Staff need to know their roles before, during, and after the storm. Staff may be at the facility for an extended duration before they can get relief.
  • Consider and understand the fact that people will have concerns with their own families and property.
  • Consider how pets will be handled. Will you have a temporary shelter setup for pets? How will they go to the bathroom?
  • If Rooftop AHU units fail, how do they get reset without going onto the roof? Can they be remote reset?
  • Conduct an annual hurricane preparedness meeting in April of each year
  • Review status of open PM items before hurricane season:
    • Example: Fuel polishing systems/fuel cleaning
    • Example: Generator bi-fuel and generator filters

Communication during the storm:

  • Cell phones are often useless but hard wired internet sources remain functional.
  • Programs such as GoToMeeting, Skype, and Webx would still function during/after the storm because the fiber is often still intact.
  • A variety of devices such as radio and walkie talkies are also good methods of maintaining communication.
  • Confirm the “Main Command Center” has good cell phone service and sufficient emergency power.

Cooling Tower & Grounds:

  • Ensure cooling tower grounds are clear of leaves, trees, and debris that can get into the towers.
  • Review exterior ground for dead trees and possible locations where there could be risk to people or utilities.
  • Review louver locations around site. Are they clear from obstructions and risks?
  • Make sure exhaust fans are tied down and connected to the structure appropriately.


Create a plan for gas/fuel rationing. Gas stations will be out of power, so it will be difficult to acquire fuel after the event. Staff will want to go back and forth to campus on a limited fuel supply.

  • Understand fuel runtime capabilities. How much is required for a full load? How much for a 50% load?
  • Ensure fuel is topped off.
  • Ensure fuel has been polished within last 6 months if no polishing system exists.
  • Cycle fuel for all day tanks as part of the polishing process.
  • Create a fuel consumption/priority matrix for quick reference during a storm.


If possible, transfer to generator power before the storm, or upon first bad power blip from utility. It is better to swap early and not set off a panic in the facility. You can forewarn patients, residents, and staff that this is a planned outage. Allow time to react to any last second concerns.

  • What is on generator power? This could include things like: Chilled water systems, pneumatic tubes, patient TVs, kitchen, imaging, pharmacy, and lab equipment.
  • Where is the service entrance equipment? Is there a flood risk for any of the electrical equipment?Know the flood elevation vs the elevation of the generators.
  • Confirm access to the latest online diagram for the facility.
  • Confirm arc flash and any electrical safety equipment or meters are on site.
  • Confirm status/connectivity of lightning protection system if applicable.

Consider how many people will be in the building during a storm event:

  • Will staff and patients bring their families? This could mean you end up housing a lot more people.
  • Do you have enough food, water, and places for people to sleep?
  • Consider how many towels and linens will be used.
  • Can the plumbing system handle an increase in volume that comes with more people?
  • Are there expectant mothers in their last trimester?
  • Secure medical devices from children. They may have access to expensive equipment if space is at a premium.

Elevator Considerations:

  • Louver at top of shaft is often just a louver – no damper. This could be a source of incoming water.
  • Is there a sump pump at the bottom of the shaft? If so, can it keep up?

Flooding will likely occur. What is your response?

  • Have sandbags ready before the event, know where you are going to place them, and have a team ready to deploy them during the event.
  • Exercise any flood gates that are critical to the facility.

Hurricane/Storm Shutters:

Confirm quality of the PMs for shutters, are they all operational?


In an emergency situation, where do you place anyone who passes away? Do you create a temporary morgue?


Where does trash go during and after the storm? Keep in mind trash service will be out of commission
for a brief amount of time.

System Alarms:

System alarm labels might say something like “special event #5” instead of “low fuel pressure”. Ensure manuals are handy and ideally make sure nomenclature used is clear.

  • Know how to bypass fire alarms. Nuisance alarms could pop up during the event.


Are there active construction sites? Make sure they are made safe so no loose materials can be turned into debris.

  • Consider how debris could affect chiller operation. A chiller shutdown at a facility during Hurricane Irma because plastic bags were blown into the system and got clogged in the strainer.


Plan on how you will secure doors. It is possible a few will blow open during the storm.

  • Consider all entrance, ground floor, penthouse, and rooftop doors.

Compile a vendor contact list:

Have a quick card for important numbers and make sure it’s up to date. This could include contacts such as AHU techs, generator companies, engineers, etc.

Create a shared inventory list:

This is especially important for systems that have multiple facilities.


  • Consider the potential surge in emergency department use the day after the event. This is typical when curfew is lifted.
  • Make sure you have backup keys for vehicles/equipment and a plan for who can use them. You may need a service vehicle to move around items such as spot coolers.