Hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th, meaning the 2020 hurricane season has just begun. In addition to the Covid-19 global pandemic, this year’s hurricane season is anticipated to be 50% more severe than the average season. Establishing a plan of action early is the best way for businesses to prepare for these unpredictable storms. Here is what business owners can do now to minimize financial loss, reduce the potential for property damage and minimize disruption.
- Determine what matters most to your business
In order to ensure the continuity of your business, it is important to determine what keeps your business up and running and which of these factors are susceptible to hurricane damage. These factors are most likely your people/staff, assets, and location. Take action early to protect these factors and minimize disruption.
- Protecting your people
A company depends on its employees, and the employees look to the owners for strong, dependable leadership, especially during times of crisis. It is the responsibility of the business owners to keep their employees safe, connected, and informed during a disaster. Here are some factors to consider about your workforce:
- Where is each employee located? What is their schedule? Which employees travel?
- Has the Covid-19 pandemic increased your number of remote employees?
- Do you have up to date contact information for all employees?
- Do you have a mass notification system in place to quickly and easily notify your people?
- Are your employees being tracked by HR, travel, and/or building badge systems in order to reach them immediately if necessary?
- Identify your assets
Hurricanes can cause flooding, high winds, and power outages, and gas shortages, all of which can be severe threats to one’s assets. Assets at risk include networks, technology, data, equipment, supplies, products, and facilities just to name a few. Consider the following questions now to prevent future stress.
- Where are your assets located?
- Is each asset physically protected?
- Which assets are critical to running the business?
- Are these assets owned or insured?
- What assets are leased and what is your responsibility if they are damaged?
- Fortify your locations
Weather-related are specific to geographic locations, but their extent of damage is unpredictable. Each business location should be reinforced. Even more inland locations are vulnerable to high winds and flooding. Take proper precautions by considering the following questions:
- Does each facility have an evacuation plan?
- Which people/teams work at each location?
- What are the biggest risks for each facility and how fortified are they to withstand potential damage?
- What types of materials are in place necessary to get a facility up and running again?
- Build your emergency plan
In the panic of an approaching storm, it is crucial to have an emergency plan already established in order to minimize stress and ensure maximum safety. The emergency plan should be flexible to account for inevitable changes in people, assets, and location.
- Backup your data
Regular offsite data backups will safeguard your business against on-premise damages. Cloud systems are the preferred choice for disaster recovery and sharing data between multiple locations. This may include payroll, CRM, and HR systems.
- Create Checklists
Create a checklist of essential tasks to be performed during a hurricane. Share this list with key stakeholders. Upload it to the cloud and also post it physically for others to easily reference in case of a power outage.
- Review contracts
Proactively review your contracts with vendors, insurance providers, and landlords. Identify specific mention of weather-related events, damages, and complete loss. If needed, notify contract owners directly to find out what their weather-related clauses are.
- Map evacuation routes
Work with facility managers to find out which stairways, exits, and surrounding streets should be used in case of emergency. Post physical maps on each floor to familiarize your people with approved evacuation routes.
- Create Emergency response teams
Once your emergency plan is in place, it is time to delegate and practice so that everyone has a thorough understanding of what to do in case of an emergency. Here are ways to execute your emergency plan effectively:
- Defining clear roles and responsibilities – communicate specific responsibilities with each stakeholder and ensure that they have the necessary resources and technology
- Train team members – review protocol and answer any questions they have
- Role play – practice your plan with mock drills
Source: “How to Prepare A Business For A Hurricane – 4 Simple Steps.” AlertMedia, Alert Media, Inc, 13 May 2020, www.alertmedia.com/blog/hurricane-preparedness-for-businesses/.