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As companies close offices, plants and warehouses to reduce COVID-19 spread, other risks are emerging at these now-idle facilities, warns FM Global. In addition to fires, vandalism and theft, spring flood season is beginning in the US, and hurricane season starts in a mere two months, leaving understaffed facilities potentially vulnerable. Additionally, earthquakes and tornadoes have continued to occur during the pandemic, as the US has seen recently.

FM Global believes that losses at idle properties are preventable and recommends companies ensure the following needs are addressed, while prioritizing employee health and safety, to help protect their facilities as the crisis unfolds:

Essential personnel: contact authorities and explain that security and maintenance personnel on your site are ‘essential’ in the context of stay-at-home orders.

Active security: maintain staff to perform regular daily rounds inside and outside idle facilities. Watch for criminal activity, smoke, fire or property damage. Consider webcams and sensors to detect out-of-the-ordinary motion, heat or water flow.

Fire protection: it’s important to keep fire protection in place. Have maintenance staff check daily to ensure sprinkler valves are locked open. Remove debris and ignitable liquids, and closely monitor any welding or other ‘hot work’ taking place on the property. Alert the local fire department of the building’s change in use.

Flood protection: water damage is among the biggest threats to commercial and industrial property. Elevate equipment and equip your property with temporary or permanent flood barriers.

Maintenance: this is an ideal time to perform overdue maintenance, whether it’s repairing expensive machinery or fixing a small roof leak that, if untreated, could delay your reopening and return to profitability.

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