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Preparing commercial property for severe weather

Preparing commercial property for severe weather

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In December 2021, business owners were reminded of the potentially devastating power of severe weather. Those tragic events have since spurred important conversations about the severe weather readiness of commercial properties.

The latest building science research from the Insurance Institute of Business & Home Safety (IBHS) shows there are clear actions to strengthen vulnerable parts of commercial properties and facilities to ensure they perform better in severe weather, including powerful high winds, damaging hail and even tornadoes.  IBHS encourages business owners to prepare their properties now with targeted actions to narrow the impact of severe storms and be Thunderstorm Ready ahead of spring storms.

According to Chris Cioffi, commercial programs manager at IBHS, planning and preparedness are key to reducing business disruptions from severe weather. Would you be interested in a contributed article from Chris to help guide business owners and operators in reducing the impact of severe weather on critical business operations and facilities?

Before severe weather is in the forecast, reduce the likelihood of damage to your business by performing critical tasks including:

1. Inspect, maintain and, if necessary, repair, your building’s roof. It’s your first line of defense in severe weather.

2. Install HVAC hail protection. 

3. Install backup power, a surge protection system, and/or a lightning protection system

4. Consider stronger impact-resistant skylights.

5. Prepare your windows.

6. Inspect and close roll-up doors, garage doors, and/or overhead doors, one of the most vulnerable parts of a building during high winds.  

7. Secure outdoor equipment, signage, inventory, and loose items.

8. Maintain landscaping to reduce vulnerabilities from trees.

9. Review your insurance policy to ensure to reflects any recent facility upgrades or purchases and make a business continuity plan.  

10. Arrange for reliable weather information and alerts. 

Chris Cioffi, Commercial Programs Manager

Chris Cioffi joined IBHS in 2016 as the commercial lines engineer for the FORTIFIED Commercial program. He previously worked at TLC Engineering for Architecture where he provided structural engineering design services for a variety of projects, including the design of the new St. Pete Pier and Doral Legacy Park. He also trained interns and colleagues in the utilization of design platforms. While a student at Pennsylvania State University, Chris worked as a research assistant in the Architectural Engineering Structure Lab. Among other skills and experiences, Chris has conducted structural analysis of steel, concrete, engineered wood and masonry structures; used structural analysis programs to model design and convey structural stability; and visited construction sites to analyze existing structures, monitor current construction, and determine if additional services might be needed. Along with his work on the FORTIFIED Commercial program, he consults with the IBHS Research Center team on commercial structure testing and collaborates with the business protection unit to provide membership-focused resources.

Chris has a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degree with a concentration in structural engineering, and a minor in architecture studies, from Penn State.

About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) 

The IBHS mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses, and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. Learn more about IBHS at


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