If your business is looking for the ultimate protection against hurricane damage, a Miami-based company — American Business Continuity Domes — can build you a steel-reinforced concrete dome the company says can survive winds of more than 250 miles per hour, as well as seismic activity, water and fires.
Don’t fancy a concrete dome? No worries, there are many businesses offering other options that can mitigate hurricane damage, cut financial losses and may save money on insurance premiums, such as manufacturers of metal and fabric shutters and panels, impact-resistant windows and doors as well as reinforced roofs, skylights and doors, especially large doors vulnerable to penetration by hurricane-force winds.
South Florida hasn’t experienced a devastating hurricane since Wilma struck in 2005, and many businesses and homeowners have become complacent. This year, the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1, will likely be “above normal” and possibly “extremely active,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with a high probability of 7 to11 Atlantic Basin hurricanes and 3 to 6 major hurricanes.
And if you need further convincing, Florida ranks as one of the hardest-hit states for hurricanes. Seven of the 10 costliest hurricanes in the country’s history have pummeled Florida, according to the Tampa-based Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit that provides data to insurance companies. Six of the storms reaching the state occurred in 2004 and 2005, and Wilma alone caused an estimated $11.9 billion in insured losses in Florida in 2012 dollars, the institute reported.
“Businesses can prevent storm damage and may be able to reduce hurricane insurance premiums by checking with their insurance companies, carrying out a wind mitigation survey and making improvements,” said Michael Shaheen, an insurance agent for Tamarac-based Keyes Coverage Inc., which works with several major insurance firms.
Besides collecting premiums, reputable insurance companies can help consumers and small businesses determine risk factors before a storm strikes, identify improvements that may lead to premium credits and aid in selecting the most appropriate coverage. “Businesses are often aware that credits are available, but aren’t sure how to get them,” Shaheen said. People could not only save on premiums, but also avoid hurricane damage by making improvements, he added.
Here is a look at a sampling of South Florida companies in the business of hurricane protection:
Domes: The ultimate protection
“Our domes can withstand the strongest hurricanes we’ve seen in Florida,” said Peter Fedele, a general contractor who is CEO of ABC Domes, which, along with its strategic partners, has built domes in Florida, other states and overseas. They can be used as multi-purpose shelters, community centers, sports arenas, churches, schools or for emergency equipment and vehicle storage, records and data warehousing and bulk storage, he said.
ABC Domes was set up in 2006 to provide businesses and communities with a new type of disaster-proof building, said Fedele, who is also president of a sister company, Golden Sands General Contractors.
The domes, which have a circular foundation that is about four feet deep, are built in a short period of time by inflating a multi-ply shell in the shape of a dome that is secured to the foundation, attaching steel reinforcing bars to the inside of the shell, applying polyurethane foam and then spraying on concrete (“shotcrete”) in different layers. The shell or airform serves as the form for building the dome and as the roof membrane once it is completed..