If it seems to you like there have been more hurricanes in recent years, then you are not mistaken. In fact, there have been so many hurricanes that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has had to change its definition of what an average hurricane season is. The fact is that you and your business are more at risk from hurricanes than ever before, and there is no way of knowing how long that will continue.
Of course, it only takes one hurricane to cause enough damage to shutter your business for good. It happens every year. Unprepared businesses and homes are completely destroyed, and the others are left to pick up the pieces. While you might not be able to prevent a hurricane from striking or even destroying your business, you can still take steps to mitigate the damage and keep it in operation. Here is a hurricane season checklist for businesses on the coast.
Assess Your Potential Overall Risk
Depending on several factors, you may face more or less risk. For example, your location could determine how much real risk there is from a hurricane that comes in off the shore. There may also be certain buildings or structures that are more vulnerable to high winds or rains. You need to take stock of everything your business owns and assess how much risk you have, including the monetary value, and how much you are able to protect.
For example, you can fortify any vulnerable structures. Perhaps put in new windows, or reinforce the supports of the building to prevent rot and keep the structure strong. You may want to install storm shutters and have covered areas to secure vehicles so they do not get blown away or tipped over. You can also remove trees that are near roofs and buildings if they look like they could be blown over easily.
You should also assess and prioritize the assets you have on your properties. You may decide that certain things need to be moved to more secure locations. If your business can’t run without something, such as a server, or a piece of equipment, then make sure it is as safe as possible.
Have a Plan
When the hurricane alert goes out, you don’t want your team and yourself to be running around like chickens with their head cut off, wondering what to do. You must have a plan in place ahead of time that dictates how your workplace should function if a hurricane is approaching. Every position should know what their responsibilities are and how to execute their part in them. If you have a large staff, then you can have a smaller team that develops your plan and assigns everyone their responsibilities.
Just like with fire drills, you should also practice for the eventuality of a hurricane striking your business. Have everyone go through the motions so they have it in their minds what they are supposed to do and how it will feel when they do it. That way, when the hurricane strikes, they can spring to action without any delays.
Have the Right Insurance Coverage
When a hurricane strikes, there is very little you can do at the moment to further protect your business. At that point, it will weather the storm or it won’t. However, you will rest a lot easier at night knowing that you have insurance in place to protect your property and equipment in case of damage or destruction.
Every business should have commercial property insurance, but it is even more important in areas where natural disasters are common, such as hurricane zones. You should make sure that your coverage includes damage that can result from storms. All you need to know about it will be in your policy, and if you don’t have the appropriate coverage, then make sure to have it added before hurricane season. You don’t want to be looking over the wreckage of your business and realize that you are on the hook for the repair costs. Property insurance will compensate you for those costs and can also provide you with business interruption coverage so that you can keep paying your bills even while your operation is shut down.
When a severe hurricane strikes, it leaves devastation in its wake. Yoru power might go out, you might get stranded, and you might be low on supplies. That’s why you need to have an emergency kit that will help you survive for at least three days. The kit should include necessary items like flashlights, extra batteries, blankets, non-perishable food, walkie-talkies, and first aid essentials. It is also handy to have a set of blueprints for the building in case you need to go to areas where you are unfamiliar. Ensure that in the kit, there is a list of important contacts in case you have access to a phone and need to contact clients, family, or emergency responders.
Have a Communication System
There may be confusion and uncertainty during and after a hurricane, and you will want to connect with your staff. They will also want to connect with you. Make sure that everyone understands the communication plan. It may be that everyone has CB radios they can use. Or, you have a private social media page for posting about emergency situations. No matter what the plan is, you should have certain employees assigned to each necessary role. This is also something you can practice with your staff ahead of time. This will acclimate them to communicating in a different way and also ensure that your modes of communication are always working.
Hurricanes are dangerous, and they can cause devastation when they strike. However, you can take some important steps to prevent damage or destruction and to protect your business and staff in the aftermath. Living on the coast and in a hurricane zone does not mean you are powerless to mitigate the effects of a massive storm. Follow this checklist, and you will be able to get through hurricane season safely and with your business intact.