Typhoon preparedness in China: how businesses should adapt to monsson season in China

As Southern China braces for the arrival of typhoon Chanthu, businesses are left wondering how to prevent damages as much as possible. Typhoons can be highly destructive in China. Dragging violent winds, heavy rain and huge waves and causing massive flooding, they threaten the safety of various buildings and infrastructures. Typhoons can also cause logistics disruptions due to destroyed or flooded roads and power outages. In 2020, China was hit by three tropical storms and two typhoons, causing over 800 million RMB in damages, a relatively “calm” year compared to 2019 who saw 11.6 billion RMB in damages caused by typhoons and 4.7 billion RMB the year before. Typhoons hit coastal provinces in China on a yearly basis, which mandates businesses facing those threats to prepare accordingly. In this article, we will provide guidance about typhoon preparedness in China for companies and individuals on how to preserve your assets in typhoon-struck regions.

Typhoon preparedness for businesses in China

Make sure that your facilities are capable to withstand a typhoon

Emergency equipment should be tested regularly and up to norms, this includes drainage pumps and backup emergency power supply. Doors and windows of all buildings should be in good condition and able to close properly. Note that some steel junction roofs are vulnerable to wind, these can be reinforced with bolts and steel pipes. Similarly, other vulnerable structures such as signboards, billboards and house hangings should be fastened to withstand strong winds. You should install temporary waterproof door baffles to prevent water to trickle in, you can reinforce them further by piling sandbags behind them. It is also important to routinely check foundations and walls for cracks and other signs of structural weaknesses. Finally, it is paramount to make sure that your facilities’ drainage works properly and is not clogged in any way as the system is likely to receive a lot of stress due to flooding. A water collection pit should be set up at the lowest point of the drainage system with a pump connected to an emergency power supply such as a diesel generator.

Have all your assets safely stored in secured facilities

All items stored outdoors should be moved indoor to prevent them to fly off or be waterlogged. Vulnerable structures like sheds or small buildings built on high and open spaces should not be used as storage as they are the most vulnerable. For towering equipment that cannot be stored such as cranes, take as many windproof reinforcement measures as possible, such as windproof wire cable and ground anchors. Note that those towering equipment are very vulnerable to strong winds, if possible, have them far from other facilities so that they do cannot damage any other asset in the eventuality they fall. All stocks should be stored at more than 0.5m of exterior walls and windows. Make sure that water-sensible items are filmed and shelved on high grounds. If possible, avoid storing anything in underground facilities.

Keep your employees safe

Businesses should have on-hand sufficient flood prevention materials for their employees, including but not limited to helmets, raincoats, long rain boots, waterproof flashlights, sandbags, windproof tape, emergency telephone contact books, walkie-talkies, and first aid kits. Employees should take shelter indoors in secure facilities and away from wind-vulnerable objects like billboards and sheds. Avoid having people sheltering in underground facilities as much as possible, even with proper anti-flood equipment they are the most prone to flooding. Indoors, employees should not stay near windows, balconies, and other openings. If case of absolute emergency mandating employees to go outside during a typhoon, make sure they walk along solid walls, pay attention to flying objects and avoid wind-prone elevated places. Driving is not recommended, and vehicles should be parked away from low-lying grounds that are more prone to flooding.

Have insurance for your assets

Insurance penetration in China is still very low compared to developed countries. The vast majority of losses caused by natural disaster in China are left uninsured and companies have to rely on government relief funds and charities. However, the wide coverage offered by government emergency funds is more like a band aid than a real cure to the damages caused by natural disasters as it does not compensate entirely for the losses endured. The lack of business insurance awareness is a major contributing factor to the poor insurance penetration in China, and yet, comprehensive and customizable insurance plans exist to make the most of risk management in China. As important as safety measures for your assets and employees, natural disaster insurance is a critical element for typhoon preparedness in China.

Source: Munich RE. Insurance coverage is still relatively low in China.

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