With the Atlantic hurricane season in full swing, what measures have you taken to protect your business from an impending storm?
While you and your business can’t control where or when a hurricane hits, preparedness is critical to minimizing a storm’s impact. According to a report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses do not reopen following a disaster. Avoid becoming a statistic by preparing your business for hurricane season. It’s also good to review/revise hurricane preparations you have made to make sure they’re current.
Hurricane Preparedness is Smart Business
While all businesses are unique with varying risks to people, property, data, and operations, there are steps every company should take to minimize hurricane exposure.
Let’s look at the top three:
1. Protect What’s Most Essential— Determining what’s essential to keeping your business operational should be a top priority. Typically, that includes your people, assets, and location(s). Here are general guidelines for protecting each:
People —Your employees are your greatest asset. Keep them safe and informed with these considerations:
- Designate where employees will be weathering the storm and if they’ll be evacuating.
- Know the status of employees that may be traveling or on a job site and the location and capabilities of remote employees.
- Have a communications plan in place to keep you and your workforce connected before, during, and after a storm and especially in the event of power outages and downed phone lines.
Assets —Taking regular inventory of your assets — networks, data, supplies, equipment, technology, products, furnishings, etc.— is critical for insurance purposes and knowing what assets are essential for quickly getting back up and running after a storm passes. In particular, consider how those vital assets are protected. If necessary, move them out of the storm impact zone. Make sure your inventory documentation is secure and easily accessible and kept with your insurance policy information.
Location(s) — Wind damage, flooding, fire, and power outages are top threats to buildings. Protect your site by inspecting for vulnerabilities and prioritizing any repairs needed. Consider completing immediate hurricane preparations once a storm is approaching and delegate who is responsible for seeing them through. These include sandbagging areas prone to flooding, shuttering windows, boarding up doors and windows, and securing signage/inventory/furniture that could become airborne.
2. Develop an Emergency Business Plan — Panic rapidly sets in when a storm approaches. That’s why it’s critical to have an emergency plan in place. When creating your strategy, make it flexible so you can accommodate changes to your business. Areas to consider include:
- Data — As one of your most essential assets, backing up data is an overlooked task. Ensure your data is backed up daily and backed up offsite to protect it from damage.
- Cloud Systems — If you have to work from a different location, make sure that employees can access critical business systems and data from any device. Converting these systems and data to the cloud ensures access from any site.
- Checklist — Create a list of tasks and make sure workers are implementing them during the hurricane. Store on the cloud for easy access and also physically post it somewhere for employees to see.
- Review Contracts — Review your contracts with landlords, vendors, insurance providers, and emergency fuel providers for generators and any company vehicles. Make sure it addresses weather-related events and emergencies, such as damage, total loss, and guaranteed fuel supply explicitly.
- Evacuation Routes — Work with your facility managers to determine the safest way for employees to evacuate. Identify which doors and stairwells are best to use, and which parking lot exits and surrounding streets to take. Post maps on each floor and in common areas, so employees are familiar with approved routes.
- Emergency Roles — Take the time to create an emergency response team, delegate responsibilities to team members, and clearly define each team member’s role. This approach will pay off in the event of a storm. Make sure each team member has the tools and skillset to carry their tasks out successfully. Practice the tasks through preparation drills to address any possible issues.
3. Invest In Emergency Supplies — Keeping emergency supplies at your location is always a wise move and helps ensure employees’ safety if a hurricane strikes during regular working hours. Consider these supplies to keep on-hand:
- A hand crank or battery-operated radio
- Three day supply of water and non-perishable food
- Blankets, pillows, cots, and sleeping bags
- First aid kits
- Tarps, plastic bags, and duct tape
- Fire extinguishers
- Generator and adequate fuel supply
So…. Is your business prepared?