The urgent need for disaster resilience becomes clearer with each news cycle. Business owners and community leaders must adopt strategies and practices that can help communities prepare for, respond to, and bounce back after disasters like major earthquakes. The following six steps can help your business or community achieve disaster preparedness in a wide range of areas; and as one of the most experienced seismic retrofitting firms in California, Optimum Seismic is uniquely qualified to help.
1. Understand Your Vulnerabilities
The first steps on any journey are to understand where you are and where you want to go. So start by clearly listing your business’ vulnerabilities to natural and man-made disasters.
Here in California, earthquakes are a serious and ever-present vulnerability. Building owners in particular must assess their structures’ ability to withstand major shaking. Many buildings here in California don’t meet the latest seismic building codes, and some building types are particularly vulnerable to collapse.
Also assess your business’ reliance on local infrastructure like utilities, roads and communications. How prepared are your employees, tenants or residents to deal with the impacts of an earthquake?
2. Assess Where and How to Build
If you’re in the process of deciding where and how to build a commercial building in California, you have a unique opportunity to assess a location’s vulnerabilities before you construct in this space. You can take a preemptive look at the disaster risks for a number of properties before building, which can save your business, and everyone connected to it, hassle and heartache after an earthquake.
Order a geological risk assessment, take note of other potential risks in the area, and consult with seismic engineering experts on how to mitigate those risks through resilient design. This can make your business an anchor of resilience during emergencies.
3. Build the Case for Businesses
Naturally, business owners must have one eye on the budget, which sometimes seems too tight to install resilient retrofits on your building. However, preparing a building to withstand earthquakes and other disasters can bring a healthy ROI, even in the months and years before an earthquake tests those retrofits:
- Buildings constructed or retrofitted to have resilient water, energy and communications systems can actually lower operating costs.
- Insurance companies can offer better coverage and lower premiums for buildings that have made disaster resilience preparations.
- Disaster resistance is a great selling-point for potential tenants. If they know your building is ready, they know that their businesses and operations will be better off following disasters.
- When (not if) an earthquake or other disaster strikes, businesses housed in resilient buildings can recover faster, suffer far less downtime, and become bright spots in a community that is struggling to recover.
It simply makes good business sense to invest in disaster preparedness, and it will help the entire community at the same time.
4. Understand The Cost of Inaction
On the other hand, it’s important to understand just how much it will cost for businesses not to do anything about disaster resilience. For those who may think “doing nothing costs nothing”, consider the inevitable costs that follow in the wake of a major earthquake:
- Rising insurance premiums and denial of coverage: Even if nothing happens for years, insurance companies have their eyes on risks all the time and make premium and coverage decisions based on those risks. Businesses that do nothing to mitigate their risks in a disaster risk paying a lot more, or even being denied essential coverage at some point down the line.
- Loss of the business itself: If your building collapses or suffers significant damage making it unusable and dangerous to enter, you risk going out of business entirely. Inventory will be lost, utilities, water and communications may be unavailable for a long time. Your business investments can be wiped out entirely. Worse still…
- Loss of life: If you forgo earthquake retrofitting and preparedness, the people in your building can be killed or injured, and you may be held liable for those losses.
Doing nothing simply costs too much. The responsibility rests with every business owner and community leader to prepare for disasters today.
5. Use Natural Design Systems
The best earthquake resilient building designs help a building “go with the flow” of an earthquake instead of snapping and collapsing from the stress of it. Even older buildings can benefit from seismic retrofit projects that upgrade older elements into more earthquake resilient structures.
Our structural engineers understand how the earth moves during major earthquakes here in California, and can assess your older building’s needs for an upgrade, as well as constructing new commercial buildings that are specifically designed, from foundation to roof, to withstand serious earthquakes.
6. Harness Technology and Innovation
Optimum Seismic puts the latest technology and engineering innovation to work in each seismic retrofit or new building design to ensure optimum disaster resilience. With four decades of experience, our earthquake retrofitting services provide civil, commercial, multi-unit residential and industrial building owners with the disaster resilience they and their Northern and Southern California communities need.